2 Days in San Diego: The Perfect Itinerary

San Diego is a huge city that’s packed with every type of tourist attraction you can imagine. From theme parks and zoos to gourmet restaurants and trendy nightclubs, there truly is something for everyone. When you in town for a mere 48 hours, trying to fit everything into the schedule is, of course, impossible. There are still plenty of things you can check out when you are working with a tight schedule, though. Keep reading to discover the perfect itinerary for when you are spending two days in San Diego.  

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Day 1 – Morning: Balboa Park 

The largest park in San Diego, Balboa Park is home to all sorts of interesting things to check out, including the San Diego Zoo and more than 15 museums. If you love art, visit the San Diego Museum of Art or stop by the Museum of Photographic Arts. Other popular museums include the San Diego Air & Space Museum, Fleet Science Center, and the San Diego Natural History Museum. No matter what you are interested in, Balboa Park probably has a museum you’ll enjoy spending the morning exploring.  

There are also numerous gardens, shops, and other interesting attractions in the park. There’s a lot to see, so many sure you plan and ahead and don’t lose track of time!  

Day 1 – Afternoon: Old Town 

Experience what life was like in Southern California in the 1800s by visiting Old Town. It is home to several historic buildings, including the first schoolhouse in California, a blacksmith shop, and the state’s first newspaper office, which have all been carefully restored for modern visitors. Participate in a free walking tour or hop on the Old Town Trolley to see the area without wearing yourself out.  

Grab lunch at one of the restaurants. Since this area celebrates San Diego’s Mexican heritage, it’s a great place to check out an authentic Mexican restaurant. Some of the more touristy locations feature colorful decorations and mariachi bands. If are not in the mood for Mexican food, there are also a few sushi restaurants nearby.  

Day 1 – Evening: Gaslamp Quarter 

San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter is the place to be if you want to enjoy a delicious dinner, sip on adult beverages, or dance the night away at a club. This trendy neighborhood is located in the heart of San Diego and is easily accessible by car or public transportation from nearly every hotel in the city.  

The city is famous for its seafood, and the Gaslamp Quarter a great place to experience. Check out one of the fine dining establishments that serve up coastal cuisine, and you will not be disappointed. Grab a handcrafted cocktail from one of the bars that line the streets, or check out of the nightclubs in the area. The Gaslamp Quarter comes alive at night, and there is always something to do.  

Day 2 – Morning: Sycuan Casino 

Sycuan Casino has been a San Diego-area favorite since opening its doors as a bingo palace in 1983. It is home to a wide variety of games and is a great place to try your luck. Enjoy breakfast at Viewpoint Neighborhood Kitchen or Wachena, then make your way to Retreat Pool & Cabanas.  

Retreat Pool and Cabanas  is an El Cajon pool destination that offers so so much more. It features two swimming pools and a lazy river where you can soak up some rays and recover from your night on the town. You’ll feel your worries and responsibilities melting away as you float along the lazy river or relax on one of the oversized daybeds or in a luxurious cabana. If you’re craving something to eat or drink, browse the food and drink menus to discover all sorts of light, seasonal cuisine, and beverages. Is there anything that sounds better than sipping on a mimosa poolside in the Southern California sun? We don’t think so.  

Day 2 – Afternoon: La Jolla 

After spending your morning poolside, you should feel refreshed and ready to make the 30-minute drive to explore La Jolla. Located just north of downtown San Diego, La Jolla is an ocean lover’s paradise. The coastline here is gorgeous, and there are plenty of spots where you can go for a walk or ride a bike.  

If you are looking for something a bit more adventurous, there are also opportunities for kayaking, snorkeling, and paddleboarding. La Jolla is home to seven sea caves, six of which are only accessible by kayak or boat. Sign up for a guided tour, and you will get to see them up close. If the weather and water conditions are right, you may even get to explore inside one of the caves.  

While you are in the area, keep an eye out for the seals and sea lions that enjoy sunning themselves on the beaches. Keep your eyes on the water, too, as you may even get to see a pod of dolphins.  

Day 2 – Evening: Little Italy 

Little Italy is a great neighborhood to visit on your second night in San Diego because it is a bit more laid back than the trendy Gaslamp Quarter. This pedestrian-friendly neighborhood is home to several urban wineries, art galleries, sophisticated shops, and mouthwatering restaurants. Several top-notch chefs have made restaurants along Kettner Boulevard home, so this street is where you want to go when you’re ready for a delicious modern meal. If you want to experience authentic dishes from Southern and Northern Italy, visit India Street.  

Spend some time walking around this sophisticated neighborhood, and you will likely encounter street performers performing Italian ballads. It can be a very romantic destination, so it’s the perfect spot for couples to enjoy in the evening.  


That’s it! In 48 hours, you’ve experienced some of the best that the city of San Diego has to offer. While two days is not nearly enough time to check out even a small fraction of the many attractions the city has to offer, this itinerary should help you discover some amazing spots and leave you longing for another visit.  


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