San Diego is known for its beautiful beaches, Naval history, vibrant communities and the place where California began 250 years ago.  The city in its current location began in 1769 when California’s first 21 missions were built. For those looking to take a trip through San Diego’s rich history, here is a starting point for your historical and cultural journey through America’s finest city. Spend your next trip to San Diego visiting both the classic and the contemporary areas of the city.

What to Do in San Diego

[CLASSIC]  – Old Town San Diego

Learn about  San Diego’s first settlement in Old Town San Diego where parts of the city’s first missions have been preserved and restored. At the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, walk through five original preserved adobe buildings along with reconstructed 20th-century buildings that tell the story of San Diego’s Hispanic history.

Next, hike up the Old Presidio Historic Trail where California’s first mission and the first permanent European settlement was founded in 1769. Learn about the history of the city at the Junípero Serra Museum that will be launching a new exhibition in September to celebrate San Diego’s 250th anniversary. Finish off your day at the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala that was first built in 1769.

[CONTEMPORARY] – Liberty Station Arts District

Set in a former Naval Training Center, the Liberty Station has restored and transformed the buildings into a space for the arts community in San Diego. The former barracks now house theatre groups, dance companies, museums, galleries and artists studio spaces to create a thriving creative community. During your visit, pop into the San Diego Comic Art Gallery, San Diego Watercolour Society and Visions Art Museum along with some of the other smaller artist spaces in the Arts District.

Liberty Station is also home to San Diego’s first food hall, the Liberty Public Market, as well as a number of other dining options including the popular local chain Breakfast Republic and Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens.

Liberty Station Arts District (Photo by By Malik Earnest)

Where to Eat in San Diego

[CLASSIC]  – George’s at the Cove

Get the true San Diego experience by dunning in La Jolla at George’s at the Cove. George’s at the Cove has been serving California modern cuisine since 1984 reinventing their menu to keep up with contemporary palettes under leb by Chef Trey Foshee. On a clear evening, you will want to book a table on the Ocean Terrace for one of the best views of the sunset along the coast.  

[CONTEMPORARY] – Herb & Wood

Under the direction of “Top Chef” Brian Malarkey, Herb & Wood infuses a California perspective to Mediterranean dishes in San Diego’s Little Italy.  The menu is designed for guests to share allowing you to try a selection of the wood-fire dishes. This expansive restaurant is divided into three parts passing through the Herb & Eatery market area as you enter into the main dining area with a central bar and intimate covered patio area along the side.

Herb and Wood (Phoby by Any McRory Courtesy of

Where to Drink in San Diego

[CLASSIC]  –  Waterfront Bar & Grill

First opened in 1933, the Waterfront Bar & Grill claims to be San Diego’s oldest tavern opening shortly after prohibition with only a few bar stools, jukebox and a pinball machine. Located in the hip Little Italy neighbourhood on Kettner Boulevard, it is hard to pass by the open windows of the pub showcasing the liveliness inside without wanting to pop inside. The tavern is best known for an aged whiskey menu served neat, pub fare and kitschy decor showcasing San Diego’s fishing history.


One of the most popular trends for bars right now in San Diego are developing prohibition-era style speakeasies hidden behind some of your favourite restaurants. False Idol  pays homage to San Diego’s love for Polynesian culture. Tracing its roots all the way back to the early days of the U.S. Navy being stationed in Hawaii and bringing souvenirs home, you can still see tiki-inspired decor items throughout the city as a reminder of the past. False Idol is located at the back of Craft & Commerce creating Polynesian pop-inspired oasis filled with artifacts and tiki decor. If you dare, order the Alkala the Fierce for a mystifying experience as your drink is served.

False Idol (Photo by Zack Benson Courtesy of

Where to Stay in San Diego

[CLASSIC]  – Hotel del Coronado, Curio Collection by Hilton

The island of Coronado has the small-town charm of yesteryear and is located a short ferry ride across the bay from downtown San Diego. The Hotel del Coronado has been a popular vacation destination for over 130 years thanks to the pristine beachfront location of this expansive 28-acre resort. The Hotel Del Coronado is also extremely well-known because it was the filming location for the film Some Like It Hot (1959) starring Marilyn Monroe. With a range of rooms, suites and residential cottages, the hotel is currently undergoing a $200-million upgrade to its facilities and guest rooms that are expected to be completed in 2021.

[CONTEMPORARY] – InterContinental San Diego

Overlooking the San Diego Bay, the InterContinental San Diego is a new addition to the waterfront. There are 400 guest rooms that blend together the modern luxury a traveller is looking for with contemporary west coast decor. For a meal or to meet with friends for a drink, the Vistal Bar + Restaurant on the third floor is under the direction of local chefs Amy DiBiase and Paul McCabe who bring together Baja flavours with an international flair.

Hotel del Coronado
Hotel del Coronado


Cover Photo by Daniel Guerra on Unsplash


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