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San Diego 3 Day Itinerary Ideas

Looking for some San Diego 3 day itinerary ideas? Read our blog and gain some insights!

a large body of water with a city in the background

San Diegans are fond of referring to their city as “America’s Finest City,” and as a visitor, you’ll soon see why. With sixty-miles of stunning coastline and unbelievable year-round weather, San Diego is one of the best places in the world to explore. 

Take a boat ride, enjoy the best food, or just out on the world-famous beaches. With our top San Diego 3 Day Itinerary Ideas, you’ll get the most out of this iconic city.

Day 1

1. Take a Boat Ride in San Diego

A couple drives in a private speed boat in a speed boat riding along the ocean in San Diego

A great way to see the city in a completely new way has to be from the harbor on a speedboat. Take a tour around the harbor, through the bay, and past the Coronado bridge. San Diego Speed boat tours are something different, totally exciting, and a great introduction to the city.

2. Grab a drink in San Diego

a group of people standing in front of a store

San Diego has a lot of really great bars and breweries. One you simply can’t miss is Hamilton’s Tavern. It offers a huge selection of beers on tap, a few pool tables, and a great atmosphere that will welcome you to San Diego. Definitely worth checking out.

3. Visit the USS Midway Museum

Land and Sea combo

The USS Midway is a great place to learn about the history of Naval Aviation in the US. It is located in the heart of downtown and is a great place to take the kids. Their “earn your junior wings” activity for children will keep them entertained for hours! 

Bonus: When you do the San Diego Speed Boat Tour you get to see them up close from the water – their size is truly impressive!

4. Enjoy outdoor dining with an ocean view at Coasterra

San Diego Outdoor Dining Spots - coasterra

Coasterra is one of the most beautiful restaurants in San Diego. It’s located at the tip of the Embarcadero. The ambiance is fantastic, the view of the San Diego Bay and Coronado bridge is breathtaking, and the food is out of this world. Seriously, if you are looking for a great dining experience, this is it.

Just want the view? There are many stunning San Diego Lookout Points to choose from – make sure you visit them all.

Day 2

1. Take a GoCar ride tour of the city

go car front view

If you are interested in getting out and seeing the city in a completely new and thrilling way, you should definitely do the GoCar tour of San Diego. These zippy GoCars will allow you to see parts of the city that are usually inaccessible to normal cars. It is a fun way to quickly see the city and, in addition, the automated “tour guide” gives you great context while exploring.

2. Grab some “pub grub” at Knotty Barrel

San Diego Outdoor Dining Spots - Knotty Barrel

The Knotty Barrel is a great place to grab lunch in San Diego. Locals love it for the great food, beer, and outdoor patio seating – to do some people watching. Check out our article on the best outdoor dining in San Diego, to get your foodie fix.

3. Visit the Meditation Garden

A photo of the sun peering through the trees in the San Diego meditation gardens

The Meditation Garden is probably the most serene place in San Diego. In addition, you can get some magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean from the four-story glass observation tower. It is a great place to unwind, reflect, and escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown San Diego.

Day 3

1. Explore the Birch Aquarium

The Birch Aquarium is one of the top san diego attractions for kids

The Birch Aquarium is the best place to learn about the local marine life in San Diego. It’s well-known for its cutting edge-research and contribution to Marine Science globally. 

There are over 5000 fish species in over 60 aquarium habitats. This is hands-down one of the best things to do in San Diego.

2. Take your kids to the New Children’s Museum

the children's museum is one of the top san diego attractions for kids

If you are traveling with children, the New Children’s Museum is a must. It has been designed to be fun, interactive, and educational. If you’re looking for more San Diego 3 day itinerary ideas to do with children, check out our post on the Top 5 San Diego Attractions for Kids.

3. Have a beach day at Coronado Beach

a group of people riding skis on a body of water

Coronado beach is a great place to go during a San Diego heat wave. Perfect for cooling down in the waves, relaxing, getting a tan, or just hanging out.

More San Diego 3 Day Itinerary Ideas

If you want to fit as much in as possible, here are some additional ideas for a jam-packed 3 day itinerary in San Diego. 

1. Go for a run around the Embarcadero

This 3-mile run is a great way to see the city. The Embarcadero is the perfect place to exercise with local San Diegans and has the best sightseeing stop where you can take a well-deserved break.

2. Enjoy a San Diego beer at the Karl Strauss Brewery

a plate of food on a table

Karl Strauss Brewery has some of the best beer in San Diego. Known as San Diego’s original craft brewery, this is a must for your San Diego itinerary.

3. Get the best San Diego Selfies

a person holding a pair of people posing for the camera

It’s all about the memories and who doesn’t love going through their family holiday pictures. Make sure you get family photos at the 10 Best San Diego Instagram Spots.

4. Check out the San Diego Street Art

a photo of the welcome to san diego mural

Street art is huge in San Diego and this form of creative expression is a huge crowd puller. You can’t visit San Diego without seeing the Best Street Art San Diego has to offer.

5. Discover San Diego’s Secrets

A photo of taken while walking the middle of of the spruce street swing bridge in San Diego

A great way to truly feel like you’ve seen the real San Diego is to discover the local secret spots. Try to visit a few of the Best Secret Spots in San Diego while you’re here.

Final Tips

There is so much to experience in San Diego. Planning ahead can help you make the most of your trip and ensure you get tickets to the best attractions. We hope this article has helped to inspire your 3 Day San Diego itinerary, and get you excited for your upcoming trip.