San Diego, CA

New to San Diego? Here Are 5 Tips to Help You Make the Best of It

Itxy Lopez

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I’ve lived in San Diego practically my entire life. I know the city, the weather, and what to expect by heart. If you’re new to town, here are five tips that will hopefully make things easier for you.

1. Always Keep a Sweater (or a T-Shirt) In the Car

San Diego weather is unpredictable. It’s cold during the summer, and one year, it was about 75° F on Christmas Eve. (Talk about a mood killer.) On Monday, you might wear a t-shirt and some shorts, and by Wednesday you’ll be wearing your favorite hoodie.

Back in high school, I’d show up to school in a sweater in the morning, coffee in hand, and by lunchtime, the sweater would be in my backpack and I'd be chugging water.

The best (or worst?) part is––I’m not exaggerating. It's always best to keep a sweater or a t-shirt in the car just in case.

2. If You Want to Find Parking Downtown, Leave Early

Downtown San Diego is definitely one of the coolest places in San Diego. You don’t even need to eat or drink there to have a good time. A walk with your partner, and maybe a coffee, is good enough.

But good luck finding parking. Driving downtown means you drive for about fifteen to twenty minutes and hope you find a place with a parking meter to leave your car. You always have the option to park in the paid parking lot, but it’s $35. Yeah, no thanks.

If you have dinner plans, especially with other people, it's always best to leave at least twenty minutes early. This will give you time to find parking. Sometimes, you’ll still end up a block or two away and have to walk to your destination.

3.Upgrade Your Picnic: Ditch the Park

While a picnic at any local park is nice, why not upgrade it and have one at some of the tourist spots?

Balboa Park, for example––San Diego's museum hot spot––is a great place to have a picnic. Find an empty patch of grass, probably by the botanical garden, and enjoy a snack or two there.

Or why not go to Sunset Cliffs? Pack light––a sandwich and a drink––for you and your partner, find an empty bench and enjoy your meal while watching the sunset and cliff divers.

4. Check Out the Local Events

Like the Cinco De Mayo event in Old Town San Diego, or the orchestra that performs at Balboa park, or the movie nights at the park. San Diego is a bustling city. There's a lot to see and experience, including events at already tourist-filled spots.

Go for the food trucks, the ambiance, the people, the fun. Neighborhoods like Eastlake and Hillcrest have weekly Farmer Markets, or you can visit the Swap Meet on the weekend. Buy some ice-cold watermelon water or enjoy corn on the cob.

You find out more about these events, the dates, and the details, here and here.

5. Nights Out Don’t Have to Be Expensive

You can visit Seaport Village just for the walk, to see the Kissing Statue, and to enjoy the nice weather. If you want to keep it cheap, just grab a bite and avoid the shops and candy stores.

The same goes for Balboa Park. While the museums are a big part of Balboa Park, it’s just as nice to walk around. Plus, there are some free museums, the botanical garden, and the Alcazar garden.

You can go to Soledad Moutain for the view, Palomar Mountain for a hike, or even for a drive around La Jolla.

Those are quick 5 tips for any new San Diegans. No matter what you do or don't do, you're going to love the city. There's so much to do and explore. Have fun!

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Writing about San Diego, places to visit, and more.

San Diego County, CA
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