San Diego is California’s first city, discovered in 1542 when Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed into San Diego Bay and claimed it for Spain. Today, San Diego maintains its naval integrity as one of California’s busiest sailing ports and a U.S. Navy hub. Tourism keeps this city afloat – thanks to cheap flights to San Diego – and provides a major boost to the city’s economy every year. Book airline tickets to San Diego for some of the best swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing and sailing in the nation. While you’re there, head to famous tourist attractions like Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo.
Visitors arriving on San Diego flights will immediately feel at ease in the nation’s seventh-largest city. Its neighborhoods rival that of tourist-packed San Francisco, but when you book a trip to San Diego you’ll find the city’s Spanish-Mexican heritage honored. If you’ve got some time to spare while you’re here, add a few extra days to your San Diego flight and take a side trip to one of California’s nearby cities.
One of San Diego’s greatest attractions is Balboa Park, a wonderful collection of gardens, stunning Spanish Revival architecture, museums, wilderness and zoo. Another is the Gaslamp Quarter, the historical heart of the San Diego. A red-light and low-rent district in times gone by, the past few decades has seen it come back to life – now as a lively dining, entertainment and urban shopping area.
San Diego, the beautiful city by the Pacific Ocean about two hours south of Los Angeles, has arguably the best climate in the US and a healthy, laid-back attitude too. It has a great ethnic and cultural mix, and its close proximity to Mexico – Tijuana is less than 20 miles away – makes for great Mexican cafes and restaurants.
Food lovers that fly to San Diego will find excellent Latin, Central and East Asian, Middle Eastern, Italian, Greek, and Pacific Islander food throughout the city. Pick up the scent in the Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy, La Jolla and Old Town.
One of San Diego’s biggest attractions is the world-famous San Diego Zoo, known for its conservation efforts, natural animal environments and successful breeding of endangered species. You can visit more than 4,000 animals, many of them wandering in simulated natural habitats spread out over 100 acres. One of the best sections is the Tiger River Asian rainforest, which features tigers, pythons, tapirs and crocodiles visible from misty trails winding through waterfalls and exotic plants. You can also visit exhibits like the Gorilla Tropics, Sun Bear Forest, polar bears and the Ituri Forest Exhibit. The zoo’s smallest visitors might enjoy the Children’s Zoo, where they can pet bunnies, goats and sheep. Sea lions and other animals perform at an outdoor amphitheater.
San Diego’s city center area includes the business district, the historic Gaslamp Quarter and the waterfront Embarcadero is small enough to walk around. The Gaslamp District is a trendy 16-block shopping and dining area filled with historic buildings and the wrought-iron street lamps that give it its name. There are also many performing and visual art centers and several blues and jazz festivals. In the summer there are crowds of people sitting at outdoor tables, but you should watch your surroundings at night.
San Diego’s beaches are the heart of the city, stretching across 70 miles. There are plenty of shops and cafes to stop at or you can spend your time tanning, swimming or snorkeling. Roller bladers, joggers and bikers flock to the boardwalk running from Mission beach to Pacific Beach, and there’s plenty of waterskiing, sailing and windsurfing in Mission Bay. Just north of the city is La Jolla, an oceanfront suburb with classy restaurants and expensive real estate along a beautiful stretch of coastline. The ocean is clear and the beaches have coves, cliffs and great surfing.
Coronado Island is home to the famous historic Hotel del Coronado, a National Historic Landmark from 1888. The building is a San Diego institution with distinctive Victorian turrets and conical towers. Many films have been shot here over the years and celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra were once guests. You can stay at the hotel or just take a tour, wandering through the grounds and the award-winning Silver Strand State Beach.
No matter when travelers book your flight to San Diego, California’s southernmost city, and second-largest, they are sure to enjoy near year-round sunshine with shimmering beaches and a fascinating history.
The average daily temperature is 70 degrees. During the summer months and into October temperatures up to 85 degrees are not unusual. The city averages a mere 10 inches of rain and even during the coldest months of December and January, temperatures still average a mild 68 degrees.
San Diego is the perfect year-round destination and its high season includes most of the year. Accommodation and flights to San Diego and will be most expensive between May and August, November to January and during all public holidays. If taking a flight to San Diego over the festive period be sure to fly there during Christmas when over 1,200 individuals from all over San Diego take part in the La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival every year. People line the sidewalks to watch the parade of marching bands, drill teams, scout troops, dancers, floats and much more.
October, February and March are low-season months. During this time cheap flights to San Diego are available and February sees San Diego’s most adored nightlife street party, Gaslamp Diego Mardi Gras, bless the streets with spectacular performances, parades, live music and streets of delicious food. The event is held on Shrove Tuesday and thousands of merry-makers flock towards the vibrant Gaslamp Quarter every year. Additionally, September and April are months of good weather, fewer crowds and it is also possible to find a cheap flight to San Diego in these months. If you are taking a flight to San Diego to enjoy the beach, beware the May Gray and June Gloom – or fog as it is more often referred to.
San Diego is always warm and popular, but spring and fall often net you the best deals on flights. Those times are less busy than popular summer travel to San Diego, but you still get beautiful weather. Winter months are typically the cheapest time to buy tickets to San Diego. Start looking one to four months ahead of time, unless you plan to travel during a holiday or during summer, when demand is higher.
Flying to southern California takes just a few hours from many U.S. locations. Visit San Diego from Seattle with a flight of just over two hours. The flight from New York City takes just under five hours, and a flight from Chicago takes just under four hours.
The San Diego International Airport has two terminals to host several carriers. Some of your options include Allegiant, American, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Spirit, Southwest and United. If you’re traveling internationally, airlines include Air Canada, British Airways and Japan Airlines.
San Diego gets a lot of sun year-round, so sunscreen, a sun hat and sunglasses are important. If your plans include the beach, pack your swimsuit and other beach gear. San Diego is a relatively laid-back city, so you can get away with almost any type of clothing. If you’re traveling in the summer, plan for hot weather by packing lightweight clothes that keep you cool. In spring, fall and winter, temperatures can get chilly, especially in the evening. Bring a few layers or a light jacket to keep yourself warm.
The main airport for travelers on flights to San Diego is San Diego International Airport (SAN). Public transportation options from the airport include buses, light rail and trains. Car rental and taxis are also available.
Like much of Southern California, the easiest way to get around San Diego is by car. You can find several rental car companies at the airport. Bus tickets are cheap and the trolley system is a great way to get around downtown or to nearby Tijuana. The Blue Line can take you through Old Town before crossing the border into Mexico. Tickets cost a few dollars and last for two hours.
The world-renowned San Diego Zoo is a must-do for visitors of all ages. At 100 acres, it’s one of the largest zoos in the U.S. The San Diego Zoo is home to many rare and endangered animals, including giant pandas. Take a 35-minute bus tour of the zoo if your feet need a rest. While you’re at the zoo, take time to explore the popular Balboa Park, which is a 1,200-acre park surrounding the zoo. Visit the Botanical Building, museums, gardens and many other attractions situated in the park.
Check out San Diego’s beginnings with a visit to Torrey Pines State Reserve. Here, you can see the untouched shoreline with all of its natural topography and plant life. You’ll also see 3,000 Torrey pine trees in the reserve. These pine trees are the rarest in the U.S. While you’re at the reserve, check out one of the last salt marshes in Southern California. The reserve offers plenty of hiking trails to explore the area.
Experience San Diego’s military side at the USS Midway. It was the longest-serving U.S. aircraft carrier of the 20th century. Now serving as a museum, the USS Midway includes 60 exhibits and 29 aircraft with a self-guided audio tour to explore the ship. For a different type of watercraft history, visit the Maritime Museum, where you can see everything from sailing ships to submarines.
Several spots throughout the city give you amazing views of the area. The Cabrillo National Monument is one of those popular locations. You’ll get a wide range of views, including the Pacific, downtown San Diego, Point Loma naval base and Coronado. You can even see mountains in Tijuana on clear days. Another great place for ocean views is Sunset Cliffs, with beautiful sandstone cliffs along the shore.
Stop by Gaslamp Quarters when you want to be part of the action. This area encompasses 16 blocks full of shops, theaters, restaurants and art galleries. You’ll see lots of Victorian architecture in the area. It’s also a popular location for festivals and special events.
Sunny southern California offers a lot, but the San Diego International Airport connects you to anywhere in the world when you’re ready to explore. Fly out of the city on American, Delta, United and other popular carriers.
Find your next adventure on one of these routes:
San Diego is a busy airport, so you’ll want to arrive early to avoid missing your flight. Take the city bus from downtown San Diego to the airport to avoid parking hassles. You can also take the San Diego Trolley. A shuttle runs between the terminal and about a block from the Middletown Station if you take the trolley.