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San Diego Beach Vacation Guide

Beaches, Hotels, Mission Bay, Museums,
Sea World, the Zoo and Much More

historic building in Balboa Park San Diego

Plan your San Diego beach vacation here!  There are so many fun things to do and great tourist attractions, museums and beaches to visit that it's hard to know where to start.

As the southernmost beach area in Southern California, San Diego enjoys mostly lovely sunny weather year round.  Temperatures generally range in the upper 70's in summer and upper 60's in winter. The ocean water is the warmest of all the Southern California beaches. 

Besides being a very popular beach resort, San Diego’s other great appeal lies in its many cultural offerings and attractions.

Pacific Beach San Diego
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April 2018 Festivals and Events In San Diego California

  • Annual Old Town Fiesta Cinco De Mayo - San Diego - April 5-7, 2018
  • Port of San Diego's Day at the Docks - San Diego - April 15, 2018
  • Mission Federal ArtWalk - Little Italy, San Diego - April 28-29, 2018

Popular San Diego Attractions

Balboa Park Museums

Too many to see in one day, but what a great range of choices, and in such a beautiful park! A great supplement to your San Diego beach vacation.
More about the museums in Balboa Park

San Diego Sea World

World famous theme park for aquatic shows, marine animals and fun rides.
More about Sea World San Diego

Wild Animal Park San Diego

Actually north east of San Diego, this is a place to come see wild animals roam in larger habitats than you see at the zoo.

More about walking on the wild side

Belmont Park San Diego

This is a fun, old fashioned, boardwalk style amusement park on the beach.
More about Belmont Park

San Diego Zoo

No matter if you've been to this zoo 10 times already, it is always a new experience.


Coronado Island, at the southwestern edge of San Diego, is accessible by bridge or ferry.  It has a beautiful white sandy beach in front of the historic Hotel del Coronado.  On the eastern side of the island is the ferry landing where you can sit on a beach or at an outdoor restaurant and watch the nautical activity in the San Diego Bay.  The San Diego skyline is magnificent from here at dusk.

San Diego view From Coronado

Discover more about San Diego tourist attractions.

San Diego Beaches

San Diego Beaches map

© OpenStreetMap contributors

The three main beaches in San Diego from north to south are Pacific Beach, Mission Beach and Ocean Beach.  All three have wide sands and good waves to swim, boogie board, or surf on.  A boardwalk for skating, biking and strolling runs along Mission Beach and Pacific Beach.

Pacific Beach In San Diego California

Ocean Beach is less touristy and a bit more laid back.  Mission Beach has Belmont Park with its roller coaster and other rides.  Pacific Beach has Crystal Pier.  Sometimes you can see hang gliders floating peacefully over the ocean just to the north.  Tons of surf shacks and beach gear rentals line the main drag that runs through Pacific beach and it's very much a beach "scene". 

Mission Bay beaches in San Diego.

© OpenStreetMap contributors

Within walking distance just east of the ocean is Mission Bay, a boaters haven, where those who want a more peaceful beach experience can sit on the sand and watch the sailboats and kayakers.  A boardwalk goes along much of this as well. 

Bonita Cove in Mission Bay San Diego

If you're staying for a week or more, consider enrolling your kids in surf camp.  They're found in Coronado, Mission Beach, La Jolla and Carlsbad further north.  Check out San Diego surf camps here.

San Diego Tours

If this is your first San Diego beach vacation, a great way to get a feel for the city and all its attractions is to take the Old Town Trolley tour.   This will orient you to all the main areas in San Diego, so you can decide where to go back on your own and spend more time to explore.

San Diego Accommodations

If you're looking for a hotel for your San Diego beach vacation, there is an overwhelming amount to choose from in all different areas, whether near the water or inland. 

Hotels In San Diego

You can try narrowing your search down to some of these areas:

Bed & Breakfast Inns

Many of these are in the Balboa Park neighborhood. Find a San Diego bed and breakfast .

San Diego Beach Vacation Rentals

For a longer stay, you might want to consider getting a San Diego beach vacation rental.

Most of the beach rentals are in the Mission Bay, Pacific Beach, Mission Beach areas.  This is great for a family beach vacation because you have it all -- the sun, the surf, bike paths, and boating on the bay.  There are many places to rent beach equipment along Ocean Blvd., which runs down the isthmus between upper Mission Bay and the ocean.

Other beach vacation rentals can be found in La Jolla, the exquisite seaside village just north of Pacific Beach.  There are also several vacation rentals in the exciting Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego.  While not exactly on the beach, they are close to San Diego Harbor and a quick drive to the beaches.

You can check online current listings of San Diego beach rentals offered through  You'll see photos, prices and full descriptions of each property.  You can then click on one to get more detailed information and to contact the owner.

Another place to check for San Diego beach rentals is TripAdvisor.

Thirdly, you can check local real estate agents whom might have beach rental listings.

Camping In And Around San Diego

If you want to camp on your San Diego beach vacation, check out our campground guide.

Further up the coast in north county, there are more great spots for beach camping.

Map Of San Diego California

View Southern California Beaches in a larger map

Getting There And Getting Around

Find cheap flights to California.

Here is information on general San Diego transportation, like getting around by trolley, car, train, boat or bus.

Or check here specifically for airport transportation and options for getting to your hotel, whether by taxi, shuttle or rental car.

> San Diego

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