I love San Diego. I think it’s the most laid back city in all of California. I love checking out the beaches whenever I’m here, especially when the weather is perfect enough to take a dip. If you ever get a chance to visit, and you only have one day to explore, here’s my one-day itinerary to make the most out of your trip.
First, get an early start to your day and hike up Mt. Woodson, also known as The Potato Chip Rock Trail. This is one of the most popular hikes in San Diego, because of the thin looking slab of rock (which looks like a potato chip!) protruding on the side of a cliff.
There are two ways to reach the Potato Chip Rock. The most common one is the west-side route, which is about 8 miles long, and the trailhead starts in Lake Poway. The other trail on the east is shorter, only about 2 miles in and 2 miles out. You will find this trailhead along CA-67, near the Hedy Dr intersection. Since we didn’t have all day to do this hike, we chose to do the shorter route.
To get to the east-side trailhead, park along CA-67, and look for the sign that says Potato Chip Rock. Follow the trail until you reach a paved road, and make your way up the mountain. Once you reach the top where the signal towers are, veer towards the right until you see lots of people in a line. Yes, there is a line for you to take a photo on top of the rock, and it gets really long, especially mid-day, so it would be best to come here really early so you won’t have to waste any time lining up.
The Potato Chip Rock isn’t the only great spot to check out on top of this mountain, but there are also other spots to explore. On the other side, you’ll find great views of San Diego, so be sure to roam around that area too.
After a great hike, I suggest going to Mission Bay to cool-off and go swimming in this massive man-made salt water bay. Fun fact, this is the largest man-made lagoon in the whole country!
It was nice to watch lots of different water sports happening in this place. Some people were on their jetskis, some were parasailing, and others were in paddleboards and kayaks! It was the perfect place to spend the afternoon.
My husband and I were able to rent out this inflatable paddle board in Los Angeles from a company called Joymode, and we took it with us for this trip. I didn’t even know inflatable paddle boards existed, so I was pretty excited about trying it for the first time. We had so much fun with it, and it amazed me how compact and convenient it was to bring & set up.
Paddling gave us a great arm workout, and it surely balanced out the leg workout we got from the hike that morning!
To cap off the day, I suggest heading over to Sunset Cliffs. This is probably one of the most romantic spots in San Diego. The view of the whole place during sunset is breathtaking! It instantly became my favorite place in San Diego.
I also love how very accessible it is, right next to the parking lot. After a day full of activities, I was thankful that we didn’t have to hike far to be able to get a great view such as this.
It was the perfect end to a very productive day. The sounds of the waves were very calming and relaxing, and the views all around were inspiring. I could simply chill here all day.
So, there you have it! My activity-filled guide for spending a day in San Diego. Hope this helps you in your future travels!
How would you spend a day in San Diego? If you have other tips & suggestions, I would love to hear about it!