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San Diego and Soccer: Stay and Play for Manchester United vs. Wrexham

Snapdragon Stadium is just the start of your San Diego vacation

The eyes of the soccer world will be on San Diego's beautiful new Snapdragon Stadium in July, when England's Manchester United — one of the sport's most fabled teams — plays the celebrity-owned Wrexham AFC squad. But if you're among the soccer devotees headed to town for that July 25 happening, you've got a whole lot more to look forward to beyond the game. Not only is San Diego an ideal destination for soccer fans, but it's simply a spectacular place to spend a stretch of your summer. Here's a quick guide to some great options for making the most of your San Diego visit — from world-class dining to vibrant neighborhood finds to fantastic outdoor fun.

 

San Diego Loyal players at Torreo Stadium

Celebrate Soccer Central

The opening of Snapdragon Stadium has turbocharged San Diego's already thriving soccer scene: The Mission Valley venue is home to the San Diego Wave FC, a National Women's Soccer League expansion franchise that has smashed league attendance records, and it will soon host a brand-new Major League Soccer team. While the Wave will be out of town for most of July, you can pop over to the nearby University of San Diego's Torero Stadium on July 29 to watch the San Diego Loyal SC — a powerhouse USL Championship team — take on Colorado Springs. Snapdragon also hosts soccer’s Concacaf Gold Cup on July 12, and Albion San Diego — a National Independent Soccer Association squad — plays the Los Angeles Force on July 8 at Canyon Crest Academy Stadium in northern San Diego.

Folklorico dancers at Fiesta de Reyes

Explore Old Town

Hop on the San Diego Trolley for a quick ride from Snapdragon Stadium to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, the place where modern California began. You can easily spend a full day in Old Town, home to a fascinating array of historic sites (the allegedly haunted Whaley House Museum is a favorite) as well as a wealth of options for great Mexican food. Drop into one of the three popular Fiesta de Reyes restaurants — Barra Barra Saloon, Casa de Reyes or the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant — for tacos, margaritas and more, before checking out the Fiesta’s 19 shops. Celebrate a special occasion at Sushi Tadokoro, one of San Diego’s four Michelin-starred restaurants. Or head over to Tahona Bar, which celebrates Mexican culture through more than 120 varieties of mezcal. This is also home base for Old Town Trolley Tours, which offers memorable sightseeing trips all around San Diego.

Pizza della Familglia in Little Italy in San Diego

Abbondanza in Little Italy

Just three stops down from Old Town on the trolley’s Green or Blue lines, Little Italy is bursting with culinary finds, including several restaurants that have gained notice in the celebrated Michelin guidebooks. Check out such favorites as Juniper & Ivy, Born and Raised and Kettner Exchange. Or pop into a more traditional Italian establishment such as Filippi's Pizza Grotto, a San Diego classic. And don’t miss the Piazza della Famiglia, an India Street landmark and perfect place for people-watching, just steps away from the Little Italy Food Hall. If you want to spend more than a day in Little Italy, the boutique Porto Vista Hotel is a fine place to stay close to the action. Or enjoy beautiful harbor views from the nearby Hilton Garden Inn San Diego Downtown/Bayside.

Young woman riding a bike along the San Diego Embarcadero

Discover the Embarcadero

From Little Italy it’s just a few blocks to San Diego’s beautiful and bustling bayfront, with its mix of local landmarks, amazing views and great bites and beverages. Climb aboard the USS Midway Museum, housed on a giant retired aircraft carrier, for a cruise into history. Or check out the vintage vessels of the Maritime Museum of San Diego. Waterfront Park, with its fun water features and generous expanses of grass, is a perfect place for families. And there are plenty of places to raise a glass and enjoy a memorable meal, from the over-the-water Portside Pier to the numerous restaurants in nearby Seaport Village.

Liberty Station

Live it Up at Liberty Station

Another winning waterfront location, Liberty Station is a former military training center perched on an arm of San Diego Harbor near the gateway to Point Loma. This sprawling multi-use community houses an arts center, a must-visit food hall and numerous shops and restaurants, including Stone Brewing’s expansive indoor/outdoor digs — the largest dining establishment in California. Recreational opportunities abound, from bike riding to boat rentals. And there’s even a soccer field at Cushing and Farragut roads, where you can watch local instructional leagues play.

The Prado at Balboa Park

Experience Balboa Park

San Diego’s cultural heart, and the biggest urban park in the United States, Balboa Park is a San Diego jewel and a can’t-miss spot for visitors. The park boasts 18 museums as well as wonderfully inviting outdoor areas, regular concerts and other free events, and several restaurants, including Panama 66, The Prado and ARTIFACT. And at the park’s northern end is the world-renowned San Diego Zoo, a place worth a full day’s visit of its own.

Paragliders over Torrey Pines State Beach

Take in the Views at Torrey Pines

Head to the northern edge of San Diego and you'll find this breathtaking location, perched on the bluffs above the Pacific. It's home to the celebrated Torrey Pines Golf Course as well as the nearby Torrey Pines Gliderport, where paragliders and other aerial adventurers launch out over the ocean. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve also offers hiking trails with unparalleled natural beauty. And when you’re ready for a rest and some repast, the Lodge at Torrey Pines beckons with its understated but elegant in-house restaurant, A.R. Valentien. Or for something simpler, grab a sandwich at the Glider Port's café and picnic while you watch gliders waft overhead.

Beer lovers enjoying pints at North Park Brewing in San Diego

Step Into Craft Beer Heaven

With heaps of prestigious awards, San Diego's beer scene has gained fame around the nation and world, earning our city the title of Craft Beer Capital of America. The region hosts some 150 breweries, which means you can try just about every variety of West Coast IPA under the San Diego sun, as well as numerous other varieties. Many of the tasting rooms are located around 30th Street (aka "Beer Street") in the North Park neighborhood, while other big local names — including Stone Brewing, Ballast Point Brewing and the grandaddy of them all, Karl Strauss Brewing — offer everything from happy hours to full-service restaurants.

Group of friends running to the water at the beach

Hit the Beach

No visit to San Diego would be complete without a beach trip or three — after all, the region boasts more than 70 miles of sparkling coastline. Stick your toes in the sand at Coronado Beach or La Jolla Cove, both of which were named among the Top 10 beaches in the nation by TripAdvisor for 2023. Or rent a kayak, book a surf lesson or grab some snorkel gear to indulge in a few aquatic adventures. And if you decide you can’t quite leave, there are plenty of ideal, beach-close lodging options up and down the San Diego coast.

Padres game at Petco Park

More Spectacular Sports

Finally, if you're still craving sports action after the Manchester vs. Wrexham matchup, San Diego offers a wealth of other events to enjoy, from San Diego Padres games at Downtown's Petco Park — deemed the best MLB ballpark in the nation by USA Today — to exciting Thoroughbred racing at the seaside Del Mar Racetrack, whose summer season begins July 21 and runs through September. And while you’re at Snapdragon, make the most of your experience by consulting our Snapdragon Stadium Grub Guide.

Here's to soccer and San Diego!

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