San Diego, California - Start in one of California’s sunniest destinations, not just in terms of the weather, but also in attitude. In the heart of the city, shop in Horton Plaza, or catch a baseball game at Petco Park. See the giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo.
Next, explore one of the city’s diverse neighborhoods, such as Little Italy, North Park, South Park, East Village—pedestrian-friendly enclaves that are the epicenter of San Diego’s burgeoning culinary movement, progressive art scene, and craft beer boom.
Start your own sampling in North Park, the neighborhood bordering Balboa Park’s northeast side. Along 30th Street and University Avenue, enjoy farm-to-table cuisine and boutique wines at Urban Solace, or wing it at local favorite Carnitas’ Snack Shop (the menu changes daily depending on fresh produce and other ingredients available that day). Work off lunch by heading down to San Diego’s sparkling Mission Bay to rent stand-up paddleboards or kayaks.
Finish with dining in downtown’s Little Italy area (home to chef Richard Blais’ eateries Juniper & Ivy and fried-chicken-fueled Crack Shack) and dancing after dark in the lively Gaslamp Quarter. Splurge on a night at one of California’s iconic lodgings, the Hotel del Coronado, on idyllic Coronado Island, connected to the city by an arcing bridge that makes you feel like you’re a million miles away.
Drive along San Diego’s coastline north—with a visit to beautiful La Jolla (elegant shopping and sidewalk cafés abound)—then pick up the beginning of Highway One in Dana Point, which leads through Orange County to Huntington Beach.