When Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo landed in what is now San Diego Bay in 1542 and claimed it for the Spanish, he took the first steps in establishing the birthplace of California – a city that today sprawls across more than 400 sq miles right by the border with Mexico. Laidback surfer vibes are mixed with a sense of history and there’s plenty to keep you busy, from hiking and watersports to theme parks and museums, plus fabulous Californian cuisine and the best Mexican tacos.
If you’re looking to hit the beach, you’ve come to the right place. The sun always shines in San Diego and with 70 miles of rugged Pacific coastline, there are more than 60 beaches to choose from. Base yourself at one of our San Diego beach house rentals and you’ll be right by one of the city’s finest slices of sand. Mission Beach stretches out along a winding classic boardwalk and is a popular spot for bicycling, picnics and of course a friendly game of beach volleyball. Mission is also home to Belmont Park, an amusement park that features the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster, originally built in 1925 but since restored and just right for some thrills ‘n’ spills by the ocean.
Head to Coronado Island (there’s a bridge, or jump on a ferry and enjoy the ride) to enjoy a beach that is consistently voted among the top 10 in the USA. Coronado Central Beach is great for families, with tide pools for exploring at low tide and the Hotel del Coronado at its southern end – the hotel had a starring role in Marilyn Monroe’s 1958 film Some Like it Hot and serves up killer cocktails.
Do you like to keep active on vacation? If something a little more heart-pumping than basking on a sun lounger is what you’re after, then head for Torrey Pines State Reserve. There are 1,750 unspoiled acres to explore, so put on your backpack and hike trails that wind through breathtaking sandstone ravines and past colorful wildflowers. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous there’s also the Torrey Pines Gliderport, where you can take a 20-minute hand-glider flight – strapped to a qualified pilot, so you’re in good hands. Float down on the warm sea breezes, drinking in eyefuls of Pacific blue as you go.
No visit to San Diego would be complete without at least one day spent exploring Balboa Park. And we mean at least a whole day. This downtown public park covers 1,200 acres and packs in a whole lot of awesome. Entrance is free, and you could happily spend a day strolling past the Spanish-Renaissance architecture through the park’s gorgeous gardens, like the cactus garden, rose garden, and Japanese-style garden. But there’s so much more! Balboa has 17 major museums in its grounds, so art lovers can linger in the San Diego Museum of Art, the Museum of Photographic Arts and the Timken Museum of Art while those with a passion for science and nature might like to explore the Fleet Science Center and the San Diego Natural History Museum. If you’re looking for a family day out you won’t be short of options – the park has a carousel, a miniature railroad and the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre (alongside plenty of performing-arts venues for the grown-ups). It’s also the location of San Diego Zoo, one of the finest in the world and home to gorillas, Komodo dragons, tigers, flamingos, giant tortoises, elephants, and rare Giant Pandas.
You get the picture – there’s lots to do. Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes, and consider buying one of the passes available that gets you entry to a set number of the fee-charging attractions.
Hungry? Then take yourself along to Barrio Logan, the center of San Diego’s Hispanic community and the place to find a Mexican feast. The best tacos are at Las Cuatro Milpas, where the line of eager customers often stretches around the block. On Wednesdays and Sundays, there’s also the San Diego Public Market, with farmers’ stalls selling California’s bounty – load up on fruits and vegetables, grass-fed beef, locally caught seafood, pastries and pasta for a slap-up supper back at the ranch.
Whether you’re looking for picture-postcard properties in Coronado, the elegance of La Jolla or getting away from it all in Encinitas, we have the vacation home to make your stay in San Diego special. Choose a traditional ranch-style villa or something with modern, clean lines, either right by the deep-blue Pacific or up in the rolling California hills.
If you want a place to take the whole family, then our rentals in Rancho Santa Fe could be just the ticket. A 30-minute drive from downtown San Diego finds you surrounded by nature yet within reach of all that the city has to offer. We have villas large enough to accommodate 10 people, with pool tables and air hockey for those inter-generational tournaments, and of course swimming pools, plus hot tubs and firepits for warming up when the evenings draw in. Golfers will appreciate the close proximity of The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe golf course, and the kids are sure to persuade you that nearby Legoland is a must-see.
Just one visit to La Jolla is enough to see why it’s named ‘the jewel’ of San Diego, so be warned – you might find it hard to leave our La Jolla vacation rentals once you’ve unpacked your bags. We have villas ranging from 2 bedrooms right up to 7, with your choice of beachside terraces or sweeping views from high up in the hills. Some of our properties have saunas and media rooms, and hot tubs and pools are of course plentiful in the Californian sun, so don’t forget to pack your swimsuit!