Complete Guide to a San Diego Staycation

Play in your own backyard while finding new tricks of San Diego's holiday trade in the process.

By Jane Lasky

Sometimes, leaving America’s Finest City isn’t the goal for your next vacation. Rather, you simply want to leave work behind to bond and re-connect with family and friends. Luckily, California’s second largest metropolis’ prime location offers sublime year-round weather with a myriad of things to do and see with your loved ones. Enter the staycation, a perfect way to play in your own backyard while potentially finding new tricks of San Diego’s holiday trade in the process.

Exploring The Sea

Ok, so, few of us are strangers to the sea, but have you ever been to Sunny Jim’s Cave? This secret spot in La Jolla can be reached via an underground tunnel from inside the Cave Store, an emporium full of beachy stuff. During the Prohibition, the cave was used as part of a booze smuggling operation, but today, folks in the know climb the 145 to take in an awesome view. Observe the meditative ocean waves as the tides comes in and goes out and enjoy your very own echo chamber. It’s like putting a conch shell to your ear – but cooler.

Taking Flight From Above

Put some zip into your SanDiego staycation by booking a zip line adventure at La Jolla Zip Zoom; it’s touted as California’s longest at 6,273-feet. You are in for a huge rush as you whip across the Palomar Mountain range – passing over the rivers, peaks and steep slopes that are part of the La Jolla Indian Campground. In the mood for a more exotic ziperience? Head to San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Flight Line Safari puts you about two-thirds of a mile above a Savannah-like setting where you can observe elephants, giraffes and rhinos from a bird’s natural habitat.

Dining Off The Grid

Crazee Burger does not disappoint. Choose from wild boar, antelope, alligator, kangaroo and more. But you don’t have to go crazee, the classic beef burgers are delicious as well. For those who like to eat with their hands, hit up Villa Manilla in National City on a Thursday night for the kamayan, which is a dish of shrimp, fried fish, pork and pickled veggies all over fresh steamed white rice. This Filipino favorite is traditionally a finger-food. So go for it. Also, if an alfresco repast is in the cards, head for Papananis on Harbor Island during the weekend for a super jumbo dog or a garden burger.

To Infinity And Beyond 

Head to Birch Aquarium Scripps Aquarium, where bioluminescence (or light produced by living organisms) is examined in a new exhibit that takes place in an eight-foot chamber known as the Infinity Cube. This super futuristic cube shows images of single cell organisms as the marine life reacts to everything from air pressure and water flow to the human heartbeat and various types of music. Astonishing stuff, even for those lacking a science degree.

Ghost Hunting For Kicks

To top off your staycation day, head to Old Town, where a small structure called Whaley House has been part of the neighborhood for more than a century, and which unflinchingly claims to be the source of a number of ghosts. For extra spooky insight into these well documented paranormal events, take the ghost tour led by a friendly ghost hunter. Other haunted San Diego locales? Pioneer ParkVilla Montezuma and, of course, Hotel Del Coronado. 

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