How Many Days Do You Need to Explore San Diego?

San Diego is a major city in California and is full of attractions, museums, and theme parks. Many include it in a tour of the Sunshine State or an on the road itinerary that provides various states. Others avoid it due to its geographic location, finding themselves slightly off a classic itinerary that includes California’s other two major coastal cities ( Los Angeles and San Francisco ) and major inland attractions. Travel in style and save some extra bucks with Delta Airlines booking options. 

In this article, I will try to clarify the ideal timing for visiting San Diego and how to best organize it according to your preferences. How long to stay in San Diego to enjoy it to the fullest?

How Many Days to Spend in San Diego?

The routine question is: how many days to spend in San Diego? The answer, in this case, more than for other cities, is: it depends. San Diego is a city famous for its theme parks, most notably Seaworld and the Zoo. If you want to include one or more of these parks in your visit, you will have to consider the fact that visiting a theme park usually takes a good part of a day.

To see the city well, excluding the theme parks, the ideal is to dedicate two full days. This does not detract from the possibility of making an essential visit of the historic districts and the main monuments in one day, especially if you only plan a shortstop during an on the road or if you want to stay two days, including a theme park.

By expecting three days in San Diego, however, you can already wind your gaze to the attractions in the surrounding areas, especially along the coast. Summarising this, if you have plenty of time and are touring California exclusively, we recommend staying in San Diego for a minimum of three days. 

Things to see in San Diego

As with all the big cities, it will be impossible to see everything in one day. If you are planning to stay in the center of the town, then start your visit from the Marina Embarcadero district that can be easily reached by foot or by public transport from all of Downtown San Diego. The second stop can be Old Town. The area that represents the cradle of San Diego and California is well connected with the trolley, which can be taken from the Santa Fe station.

If you have dedicated two full days to San Diego, you will have the opportunity to see the city in a fairly complete way. Also, commit your time to museums or more in-depth visits to some monuments or points of interest. Suppose one of the reasons for choosing San Diego in your travel itinerary is the theme parks. In that case, you will also have the opportunity to combine the knowledge of the historic neighborhoods with SeaWorld, the Zoo, or another park. 

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Seaworld and the Sand Diego Zoo

You can efficiently complete a tour of Seaworld in half a day. If you are passionate about marine animals and want to take full advantage of the ticket by spending a few hours of pure fun on the rides, you can spend a whole day without hesitation. In this case, follow the itinerary proposed above to visit San Diego one day and dedicate the second day to the theme park. If, on the other hand, you are content to see it in a few hours, my advice is this: follow the proposed itinerary for San Diego in two days, reducing the visit of Balboa Park to half a day also to include Seaworld on the second day. You will not have time to visit the various museums of the Balboa, but you will be able to combine everything well.

The San Diego Zoo involves a more extended visit if you want to visit it well and if you want to take part in the various animal demonstrations. If you are traveling with children, my advice is to dedicate a whole day to it, then follow the one-day itinerary for the other day in San Diego. Even for the Zoo, however, you can think of a quick half-day visit. In this case, unifying it with the day dedicated to Balboa is an excellent solution, being right inside the same park.

Where Should You Sleep in San Diego?

If you are tight on time and intend to follow one of the itineraries suggested above, choosing carefully the place to stay overnight can make a difference. My suggestion is to prefer one of the three districts Gaslamp, Marina-Embarcadero, and Little Italy, for the central location. In this downtown area, accommodation choice is quite wide, but above all the public transport connections allow you not to waste time going to various attractions. 

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