Stopover Guide: 24 Hours In San Diego

12 January 2017
Read Time: 3.5 mins

Nicknamed 'America's Finest City', San Diego's moniker isn't too far off the mark when you consider the stunning beaches, world class attractions, accommodation to suit all pockets and the population of friendly locals. Getting a taste for the city is easily done, even if you only have 24-hours to spare. Here's how ...  

The interiors of The Prado at Balboa Park restaurant Image courtesy of

Where To Eat

From authentic Mexican fare to expertly prepared sushi, San Diego's dining scene is as diverse as it is delicious. If food is a focus when you travel, be it for work or pleasure, you're sure to hit your stride here. The only challenge you'll face is deciding where to start.

Breakfast: The Mission

Many people put plenty of emphasis on the first meal of the day, and The Mission will not let you down. This San Diego staple is not only a consistent favourite among locals, but it serves up heaping portions of all your breakfast favourites (along with a few unexpected surprises). They're most famous for their thick, fluffy pancakes, which come in no less than eight different varieties.

Lunch: The Prado at Balboa Park

Balboa Park is brimming with things to see and do ... and eat! As you might expect, there is ample choice here when it comes restaurants, but The Prado at Balboa Park is a solid pick. An award-winning establishment, diners can choose from a long list of salads, sandwiches, burgers and Latin-inspired mains.  This includes their Grilled Prime Steak Tacos and Prado Paella.  

Dinner: Puesto

When it comes time for dinner, you can't go wrong with one of San Diego's many fine dining establishments. But, in keeping with the city's laidback attitude, Puesto is a top choice. This award-winning Mexican restaurant is known for their tacos, but diners can also choose from a variety of share plates, large plates and desserts. And what better way to cap off the night than with a specialty house-made cocktail?  

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The interior of one of the rooms at the Comfort Inn Gaslamp Convention Center Image courtesy of

Where To Stay

When deciding on a place to stay in San Diego, it's worth looking for a hotel that offers comfort with easy access to both the city's best assets as well as the airport. Enter Comfort Inn Gaslamp Convention Center. This Choice hotel is only minutes from the San Diego International Airport, making stopovers quick and easy. It's also close to the world famous San Diego Zoo, Chula Vista Nature Centre and Old Town San Diego.

There are 103 boutique-size guest rooms with six different configurations to choose from. All the requirements for a comfortable stay are accounted for, including a quality bed, private ensuite, WiFi access and dedicated workspace. The hotel also offers business travellers the convenience of a business centre, fitness centre and complimentary airport transportation. Plus, if you book this SmartSTAY hotel through your FCBT Travel Manager you'll receive complimentary WiFi service and continental breakfast as well as fast track to Diamond Status with 4,000 bonus points when you sign up to the Choice Privileges loyalty program.    

An aerial view of Mission Beach Aerial views show off everything there is to see and do at Mission Beach

Where To Play

One of the city's best features is the sheer variety of activities. The beaches are numerous; there are museums aplenty; even the green spaces invite afternoons of leisure. While 24-hours isn't nearly enough time to do and see it all, you can certainly make a respectable dent in seeing the best of the city.

Kick things off with a morning stroll along Mission Beach. One of the city's most famous sandy spots, you can get your toes in the sand on a morning walk, or strut your stuff along the pedestrian walkway. There are also plenty of spots to grab a bite (see above).

No trip to San Diego would be complete without a tour of the famous San Diego Zoo. Home to approximately 3,500 rare and endangered animals and covers no less than 100-acres in downtown San Diego. Stroll the exhibits to check out all of your favourite animals, hop on a guided bus tour or take part in one of the special experiences. This includes Early Morning with the Pandas and Inside Look Tours that take you behind the scenes at the zoo.  

Once you've had your fill of zoo animals and experiences, the rest of the afternoon can be spent exploring the rest of Balboa Park. Check out the extensive collections of one of the 17 different museums. Walk through one of the 19 gardens, or take part in some Balboa Park recreation. This includes golfing at the Golf Complex and lawn bowling.

From Balboa park, head toward the Sunset Cliffs in Point Loma to see the sun paint the skies with vibrant reds and yellows in what many consider to be one of the best sunset viewing spots in the world. 

Carlie Tucker

Travelling is for discovering the unexpected. From fantastic meals in ramshackle joints to stumbling upon a best kept secret, I love those fortuitous travel moments that couldn't be planned if I tried.

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