Oh winter, as beautiful as you are, you sure do get a little miserable at times. Lucky for us, San Diego is one of those special cities where the sun shines all year round regardless of the season, making it the perfect destination for those who need a little break from the cold. Not far from the downtown area, the beautiful beaches, amazing food, and laid-back vibes make these beachside neighborhoods the ideal destination for your winter escape.
Located in the alternative Ocean Beach, Hodad’s is a San Diego institution with a simple menu that boasts some seriously delicious burgers. Founded in 1969, it's also developed a somewhat cult following over the years. The food is fresh, the vibe is fun and the portions are big — a quintessential Cali experience.
Drink: Ocean Beach Brewery
While this area of town is home to a number of great spots to drink, no visit to San Diego is complete without trying the local craft beer — and Ocean Beach Brewery is the ideal spot to do so. Visit the downstairs taproom, play some foosball on the second floor and then head to the rooftop to catch the sunset. Beer in hand, of course.
Stay: Ocean Beach Hotel
With an average of seven to eight hours of sunshine even in the winter, Ocean Beach is the perfect place to lay on the beach, try your hand at surfing and get to know the easygoing bohemian locals. Ocean Beach Hotel is literally a stone’s throw from the ocean and near all the best boutiques, brewhouses and hip eateries the area has to offer. Great for couples who can opt for a room with a terrace or sea-view to watch the sunset from.
Like Ocean Beach itself, this one is for the backpackers, hippies and those who want that authentic, bohemian Southern Californian experience. This hostel is clean and affordable, offering a number of different room types. If you are traveling solo and wanting to meet new people - this hostel is for you.
An extremely popular local hangout, known for its big portions and all day breakfast menu. It’s simple, well priced American cuisine with a few SoCal twists such as their popular egg burritos. Kono’s is a great place to fuel up after your morning surf — something we highly recommend you do during your visit. San Diego is a great place to learn, even in the winter.
Drink: Baja Beach Cafe
This colorful margarita bar is situated right on the surfy Pacific Beach boardwalk. Treat yourself to one of the many different flavored ‘Frosty Mega Margaritas’, embrace their happy hour that runs from 4 pm to 8 pm on weekdays, and sample some of that Baja-inspired cuisine that San Diego does so well.
The team at Barrel Republic claim that they believe in your freedom to pour — beer, that is! This means beer lovers are armed with a wristband that is linked to their credit card that you scan before each drink. This leaves people in charge of what they want to taste or have a pint of — and with 44 craft beers on tap, they certainly aren’t short on options.
Stay: Blue Sea Beach Hotel
Located right on the spectacular Pacific Beach, complete with a pool you can watch the sunset from. The Blue Sea Beach Hotel truly is Californian surf culture at its finest. The bright beach decor, friendly service, and prime location make it ideal for those who want to swim, sunbathe and relax. Rent a beach cruiser there and explore the neighborhood that is home to shops, bars and beachside dining galore.
If you are looking to learn to surf, there is no better spot than ITH Beach Bungalow Surf Hostel. This friendly backpackers has colorful murals, a beachside outdoor deck, and hosts all types of events for travelers. It’s literally located on the beach and close to a number of funky bars and eateries, it’s a great spot to meet other like-minded travelers and watch the sunset nightly.
Eat: Duke’s La Jolla
While the upmarket La Jolla has a number of excellent restaurants, the Hawaiian inspired Duke’s looks right over La Jolla Cove and has a menu with something for everyone. The restaurant takes traditional island plates and adds a contemporary twist - think poke tacos, roasted da Cunha lobster tails, and vegetarian red curry. All which can be enjoyed while staring out over the picturesque cove. Perfection.
Drink: Shore Rider Bar
No shirt, no shoes, no problem. Shore Rider exemplifies the best of beach culture with its relaxed outdoor setting, fresh food choices and an array of cold beers. It’s a great spot to relax after the beach, eat some ceviche and sample some of that delicious San Diego craft beer.
Stay: La Valencia Hotel
Built in 1926 La Valencia is a throwback to the old-grandeur of the era with its Mediterranean style building, warm hospitality, classic rooms and European dining. Located in amongst elegant boutiques with sweeping views of La Jolla Cove, it’s perfect for those wanting a little luxury injected into their beachside getaway.