The following are some suggested itineraries for travelers who have two days to explore San Diego.
It's easy to see two of San Diego's four major attractions, the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld San Diego, San Diego Zoo Safari Park and LEGOLAND California, in two days:
Downtown and Mission Bay and Beach Regions
- Day 1: San Diego Zoo is home to 4,000 animals of 800 rare and exotic species. The Zoo is one of the few facilities in the United States that houses the popular giant pandas, a critically endangered species. Guests can take a guided bus tour for a great overview of the Zoo.
- Day 2: SeaWorld San Diego, located just north of downtown San Diego on Mission Bay, also offers close encounters of the animal kind, but in an aquatic setting. SeaWorld San Diego was the first SeaWorld park in the nation and home to Shamu, the world-famous killer whale. The Park features six major animal shows, dozens of fascinating exhibits containing marine life from around the globe and the thrill ride Journey to Atlantis.
San Diego's North County Coastal and Inland Regions
- Day 1: San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido is a 1,800-acre preserve where wild animals roam free over vast expanses as they would in their native habitats of Africa and Asia. Visitors can best see the park's 3,000 animals by taking the guide-narrated tram safari.
- Day 2: LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad is the first LEGO theme park in North America and features more than 60 interactive attractions, rides and shows, including Pirate Shores and Land of Adventure. Adults love Miniland USA, featuring amazing 1:20 scale replicas of landmarks in New York City, Washington D.C., New Orleans, California, Florida and New England, constructed with 20 million LEGO bricks.
La Jolla: The Jewel of San Diego
The community of La Jolla, located approximately 20 minutes north of downtown San Diego, is a seaside village nestled along seven miles of gently curving coastline. Its name (pronounced La Hoya) translates to "the jewel" in Spanish and is an appropriate description of this multi-faceted hamlet where visitors enjoy spectacular scenery, outdoor recreation, world-class shopping, fine dining and an eclectic mix of museums, theatres and art galleries. Following is a suggested two-day itinerary:
- Day 1: Shop along Prospect Street, La Jolla's main thoroughfare and one of San Diego’s most tony shopping areas, sometimes called the “Rodeo Drive” of San Diego. Prospect Street is also home to the thought-provoking Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego - La Jolla. Stroll through Ellen Browning Scripps Park, overlooking the inlet beaches of La Jolla Cove and the Children's Pool where seals frolic. View the Stuart Collection of Sculpture, 17 contemporary artworks on the UCSD campus. End the day in style, fine dining in the village and then attending a performance at the Tony® Award-winning La Jolla Playhouse.
- Day 2: Rise and shine for a round of golf at Torrey Pines Golf Course, home of the annual Farmers Insurance Open. Or for the more adventurous, tandem hang glide/paraglide at the Torrey Pines Gliderport, kayak the sea caves of La Jolla Cove with Hike Bike Kayak La Jolla or dive/snorkel in San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park, the first coastal underwater preserve on the West Coast. Then explore the marine life at Birch Aquarium at Scripps and enjoy a leisurely hike at Torrey Pines State Reserve, home of one of the world's rarest pine trees. End the day atop Mt. Soledad for 360º views of San Diego and a spectacular sunset over the Pacific Ocean.
Exploring San Diego's neighborhoods is a great way to experience the colorful charm of San Diego and its residents. Visitors can spend two days discovering the downtown and uptown areas, including the Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy and Hillcrest, as well as many others throughout the city. San Diego is home to approximately 100 distinct neighborhoods.
Life's a Beach
San Diego is synonymous with sun, surf and sand. Visitors don't have to go far from downtown San Diego to hang ten and experience firsthand Southern California beach culture.
- Day 1: Visit Imperial Beach (I.B.), a small surfer town on the U.S./Mexico border, home of Surfhenge, the world's largest known plexiglass artwork, and the Imperial Beach Pier where the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition takes place each July. From I.B., head north along the sandy white Silver Strand peninsula to Coronado Beach, anchored by the impressive Hotel del Coronado.
- Day 2: Explore the tidepools of Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma and the "gnarly" surf spots of Sunset Cliffs. From there head north to the edgy hippie hangout Ocean Beach, home of the Ocean Beach Pier, Dog Beach and Ocean Beach Antique District. Continue north to Mission Bay, home to one of the world's largest aquatic parks, and then visit Pacific Beach (P.B.) and Mission Beach, connected by a three-mile boardwalk crowded with inline skaters, skateboarders, runners, bikers and sun worshippers. The surrounding streets, stores, restaurants and bars bustle with activity. Adjacent to Mission Beach is Belmont Park, featuring the vintage “Giant Dipper” roller coaster, “The Plunge” giant indoor swimming pool (currently closed), shops and other amusements.