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Short breaks in San Diego – a bit of art, animals, history and a lot of ocean

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A short getaway in San Diego is just enough to get your toes wet. Our itinerary should help you get the most from just a few nights in a San Diego hotel.

San Diego short getaway day one, morning

Pick up your rental car and start your San Diego short getaway in Old Town. Explore the free state park and walk the streets of Plaza del Paso to get a sense of California's Spanish heritage. Haunted house and architecture buffs should take a tour of the 1856 Greek-revival Whaley House. Try your hand at dipping candles at Toby's Candle Company. Or learn about Mexico's favorite drink at the Tequila Museum.

Start: Old Town
Nearest San Diego Trolley Old Town Transit Center


As stomachs grumble, head south on the San Diego Freeway or hop on the trolley to Seaport Village. Grab a burger or try cioppino, fisherman’s stew. Pick up a souvenir at one of the 50 shops there. Then linger over a cup of coffee and a book at Upstart Crow. As shadows lengthen, head to the Broadway Ferry Landing and take the ferry across the bay to Coronado to stroll the sandy beaches and watch the last rays of the sun set over the Pacific.

Start: Seaport Village
Nearest San Diego Trolley Seaport Village


Take a ferry or water taxi back downtown to the Gaslamp Quarter, the place where San Diego goes for partying and fine dining. Top the evening off with a drink and some jazz at Croce's or take in a local production at one of the nearby theatres. The Arts Tix booth in front of Horton Plaza has half-priced tickets until 6 p.m.

Start: Gaslamp Quarter
Nearest San Diego Trolley Old Town (or Broadway Ferry Landing for boats) 

San Diego short getaway day two, morning

After breakfast at your hotel, head over to the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park. Spend the morning exploring one of the largest zoos in the world. You won't see all of the more than 4,000 animals that live there, but it's sure fun to try. While you’re there, see the rest of the expansive Balboa Park and take in an exhibition or two of art, photography or cars at one of the many museums 

Start: Balboa Park/San Diego Zoo 
Nearest San Diego buses (No nearest trolley) 


Head west toward the ocean to Pacific Beach. Enjoy bargain-priced sushi at one of the sushi bars or a shrimp burrito at a Mexican cantina. Alternately, head to Mission Bay and consider some wet fun with Shamu and friends at the marine animal park, SeaWorld

Start: Pacific Beach or Mission Bay 
Nearest San Diego Buses (No nearest trolley) 


From one of the beach cities, head north along the coast to La Jolla. Enjoy some contemporary California cuisine while drinking in the Ocean view. After dinner, window shop the boutiques in the village, stroll along the shore or drop in for some wine and cheese at an art opening in one of the many local galleries. 

Start: La Jolla 
Nearest San Diego Bus #30 to La Jolla (No nearest trolley)