All-Star Adventure Guide to San Diego

San Diego: beautiful beaches, 2016 All-STar Game Host, and much more.

San Diego is a destination that is well-known for its fantastic weather, beautiful beaches, Comic-Con, and for being the home of Ron Burgundy in Anchorman. In addition to all of these things, San Diego is America’s Finest City and is the host city of the 2016 Major League Baseball All-Star game. While Petco Park, the Convention Center, and the Gaslamp District are great spots in the city core of San Diego, the city, and the county as a whole have innumerable spots for visitors who have the time to explore, or who want to get away from the downtown crowds during the All-Star festivities. Whether you are a first time visitor to San Diego, or a long-time fan of the city, check out the below destinations this weekend that prove that the city’s nickname is more than hype.

The California Tower is an iconic spot in Balboa Park, and provides great views of the city.

San Diego’s Best Urban Escape. Hands down, with 1,200 acres of trails, museums, and the city’s world famous San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park is a great spot to relax and see a representative sample of what San Diego has to offer. Built in 1915 for the Panama-California Exposition, the park is 101 years old, and within walking distance of the city core. Tips: The best view in Balboa Park is from the lookout tower of the California Tower in the Museum of Man, which has a three-hundred and sixty degree view of the park and the city. And, while all the museums in the park are stellar, the Timken Museum of Art is always free. Finally, for those willing to walk to the park, the Banker’s Hill district on the park’s western border has a number of historic footbridges that are worth a visit.

Torrey Pines State Reserve has the rarest trees in North America, and great sunset views.

San Diego’s Best Sunset View. As San Diego has over seventy miles of beaches, the short answer is anywhere in the county. My personal favorite view is from atop Broken Hill in Torrey Pines State Reserve, but Sunset Cliffs, which is closer to the downtown core, has great views as well.

Sunset Cliffs is a great place to explore, and to watch the sunset.

San Diego’s Most Popular Hike. (Note that I did not say “best” hike). Without a question, San Diego locals hike Cowles Mountain more than any other trail, as it is the highest point in the city. Although it is farther away (outside of Poway), Iron Mountain remains the second most popular spot in the county to hike.

Iron Mountain is a popular, but somewhat strenuous hike in San Diego County.

The Best Hike in the City of San Diego that you won’t hear about it in a guidebook, or from your hotel. Kwaay Paay Peak, located in Mission Trails Regional Park is a short distance from the downtown, and an even shorter distance from Cowles Mountain. Unlike Cowles Mountain, however, you won’t find crowds, just good views. As an added bonus, the trail is next to the San Diego River Gorge and the historic Old Mission Dam.

The Old Mission Dam near Kwaay Paay Peak is a great spot for reflection and history.

San Diego’s Best Selfie Spot. As both the city and the county are stunning, there’s really not a bad place to take a selfie. Having said that, for the last ten years locals and tourists alike have been flocking to the infamous “Potato Chip Rock”. If you feel the need to have your picture taken on this rock, be prepared to climb Mount Woodson, and be prepared to wait in a line when you do get to the rock. 

Potato Chip Rock on Mount Woodson is definitely the top selfie spot in San Diego.

San Diego’s Most Haunted Spot. If you’re looking to commune with someone – or something otherworldly that might know or have heard of Shoeless Joe Jackson, the Whaley House is the spot, and Yankee Jim is your man. 

The Whaley House - reportedly one of the most haunted spots in the entire United States.

Best Place to See Animals in San Diego. Unless you’ve been living on the moon, you should know that the San Diego Zoo – and the San Diego Safari Park are both world-class wildlife preserves with excellent wildlife care and viewing. If you’re looking to see animals in the wild, the Children’s Pool and La Jolla Cove always have seals and sea lions on or near the beaches that can be observed from a close (but safe) distance. 

La Jolla Cove and the Children's Pool provide year round wildlife viewing opportunities.

San Diego’s Best Microadventure. The Sunny Jim Cave in La Jolla is a one-of-a-kind-destination that involves descending a hidden set of stairs to a unique sea cave.

The Sunny Jim Cave is a great microadventure in San Diego.

San Diego’s Toughest Hike. While difficulty is always a subjective thing, some people look for a challenge wherever they visit. If you’re one of those people, El Cajon Mountain will meet your needs and then some. At 11.1 miles of roundtrip distance, and 4,000 feet of elevation gain, it offers a challenge for most people. If you’re thinking about attempting it, bring plenty of water and be prepared to spend some time on the trail.

The hype on El Cajon Mountain is real - with 11.1 miles of distance it is San Diego's toughest.

San Diego’s Best Beer. With over one hundred breweries and microbreweries, San Diego has become the nation’s craft beer capital. And, like most things in life, beer selection is a matter of personal preference and a serious issue. Fortunately, as the craft beer capital of the United States, there is something for everyone. One of my favorite selections is the Milk and Cookies Beer Float at the Belching Beaver tasting room in North Park

A Beer Float with Cookies and Ice Cream at the Belching Beaver makes anyone's day.

From these things, to the things that I didn’t have time to discuss, like the Midway, the Star of India, Pappalecco’s gelato, and much more, San Diego has something for everyone. Like most things, this list is a great place to start for the weekend and more, but be sure to enjoy San Diego and enjoy the game!