The Best San Diego Travel Tips From Our Readers

Hack Your CityEach Monday we ask you for your best tips on a city: driving tips, restaurant recs, things to do, and any other advice for visitors and locals. Then on Thursday, we present the best comments. We’re working our way around the U.S. and around the globe.  

Over 150 Lifehacker readers left tips this week on visiting or living in San Diego. Even locals who don’t like the city chipped in with some good tips. That’s how chill San Diegans are. We’ve featured all the best comments on the Staff tab under the original post, and gathered a few highlights below.

  • “You don’t have to have a dog to go to the Dog Beach.”—Quesadilla de los Muertos

  • “Summer is jam-packed with desert visitors (Arizonans in particular) because ‘Mission Beach is where the Interstate 8 ends,’ according to my friend’s dad and AZ native. Prices go up and freeways/roads get clogged nearing beaches.”—BringYourSunscreen

  • “Go in January if possible. Weather is slightly cooler than summer but still fine for flip flops and t-shirts. It’s off-season so everything is less expensive and less crowded. Spring and early summer are often rainy and overcast. I’ve heard locals call it June gloom.”—Bobdasaved
  • “If you only have time to do one, skip the zoo and visit the Safari Park instead. Usually less crowded, and a more unique experience, IMHO.”—apocryphal
  • “Safari Park feels less ‘touristy’ [than the main zoo] and has some really great exhibits, not to mention that vast ‘safari’ part of the park where lots of animals roam around freely together.”—Mukster
  • “There’s a great hidden speakeasy inside of a small sandwich shop called The Neighborhood.”—girlsgonekyle
  • “Craft and Commerce is a great bar with really great cocktails. There is also a hidden tiki bar inside this place that you need reservations to visit.”—Rdizza
San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Photo: Tcc8
  • “You’ll probably read in many travel guides that Lucha Libra in North Park is the taco shop to check out. This is wrong and it is absolutely a tourist trap. Most locals don’t eat there because it is expensive and gimmicky. Instead, check out one of the hundreds of other cheap taco shops in the city. One of my favorites is Mauricio’s in the Normal Heights/North Park area.”—cosmicslop54
  • “If you want to avoid the like 4 hr wait for the OG Hodad’s, there’s another location in Downtown. I’ve never seen it full. They have a bus you can sit in at that location too.”—THRILLHO
  • “Julian is a quaint little mountain town founded by post war Confederate soldiers who thought they struck gold then turned to apple orchards after all the money ran out. Julian Apple Pie Co. is the only reason to visit really. They have two stores, one in Julian proper and one down the mountain in Santa Ysabel.”—ItsFrenchforPeter
  • “If you really have the time and transportation and are into more offbeat stuff, go east into the Anza-Borrego desert and check out the Desert View Tower, Salton Sea/Bombay Beach, and Salvation Mountain/East Jesus/Slab City.”—Sandroidiego
  • “Some language shibboleths: San Diegans tend to initialize things a lot. ‘PB is totally getting TJed. I was SOL getting parking so I’m out in BFE’ is a perfectly cromulent sentence, if dated slang.) Garnet Ave. is pronounced Gar-NET, not GAR-net like the gemstone. Obviously you should know by now that La Jolla is pronounced La Hoya not La JAWL-uh but other placenames aren’t necessarily Anglo-Spanish approximations. Jamacha is HAM-ih-shaw. Zonies are the asshole tourists from Arizona, but it’s expanded to all asshole tourists.”—lurkerbynature
  • “Drive a car up B street and climb the really steep hill. I actually caught air there one time in a car and when I would ride a bike down the street I could catch air.”—Leviathan in a fishbowl
  • “At the tip of Shelter Island there’s the Bali Hai, home of one of the best all-alcohol Mai Tai’s I’ve ever had. They only let you order two, they’re that good (strong).”—Michael in SoCal
  • “If you’re here in the summer, definitely go to the SD County Fair. It’s the biggest in the US and there’s a ton of interesting things to see and do. I particularly like seeing the baby goats and cows.”—justmepassingby
  • “One of the great hidden gems and best ‘bang for your buck’ in town is the San Diego Maritime Museum, especially if you have kids. Not expensive, and you get to go on two 1960s era submarines (one American, one Russian), three amazing multi-mast sailing ships, an old school racing yacht from 1900, and a ferry with an amazing history.”—talltaleradio
  • “Heading to Encinitas, for a quiet place with incredible views, visit the Self Realization meditation gardens. Small alcoves and seating with views give you a chance to find peace and quiet. It is surrounded by tropical plants, juniper, old pines and Koi ponds. This is a meditation garden, so be respectful of the peace and quiet.”—TravelinCaliGal
  • “Since weed was legalized by California last year, a number of good emporiums have spring up in San Diego. I recommend Mankind on Miramar Road, with Torrey Holistics a close second. Both are on the north side of town, and both deliver.”—Jackcatscal
  • “The best Mexican food is closest to the border.”—bridge619

See more tips on our Monday post, and leave your own below. Come back next week when we’re off to Central America.

About the author

Nick Douglas

Staff Writer, Lifehacker | Nick has written for Gawker, the Awl, the Toast, the Daily Dot, Urlesque, and the web series "Jaywalk Cop." He currently runs the horror-comedy podcast "Roommate From Hell."

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