Posted May 14, 2015

5 Fun Things to Do in San Diego for 20 Somethings

San Diego is an ideal place to live for just about anyone, especially with the city’s many beaches and other outdoor activities. However, thanks to a thriving nightlife scene, carefree vibe and excellent food and drink options, San Diego is a fantastic locale for 20-somethings in general. 

5 Fun Things to Do in San Diego for 20-Somethings

Whether you are in college or just starting at your first job as a young professional, you’re going to find loads of places to explore. Here are five fun things to do in San Diego:

1. Mission Beach

Mission Beach is not just one of the top 5 things to do in San Diego, it’s also one of the best parts of California. The possibilities for fun are endless on this eight-mile stretch of beautiful, glistening sand.

5 Fun Things to Do in San Diego for 20-Somethings - Mission Beach

If you head to the ocean during high or low tide, you will find a gorgeous collection of seashells (perfect for decorating your apartment), but honestly, there’s not really a bad time to walk on the beach in my opinion. 

A lot of locals love to hang out in Belmont Park, considered the heart of Mission Beach. Here you can ride on an old wooden roller coaster, The Giant Dipper, or rent bikes, boogie boards, or surfboards. In fact, surfing is a huge pastime here, so if you are a new resident, this is an excellent way to get in touch with the local culture.

Or, simply take it easy and bask in the Southern California sun or head to Canes Bar and Grill for a fresh cocktail or bite to eat– the views of the Pacific are excellent here. Mission Beach is also a hot spot once the sun sets, especially with the Bahia Belle, a boat that cruises around the bay and the boardwalk.

 2. Balboa Park

This is the cultural capital of the city, as Balboa Park includes 15 impressive museums, lush gardens, several hiking trails, a handful of great restaurants and, of course, the world-renowned San Diego Zoo.

5 Fun Things to Do in San Diego for 20-Somethings 0 Balboa Park

There are also dog parks scattered throughout Balboa park– so even your four-legged friend can join in on the fun! Balboa Park is celebrating 100 years of amazing exhibitions, breathtaking outdoor scenery and culture in 2015, so now is as good a time as any to pay a visit.

3. Dive Bar Scene

San Diego is definitely a college town, especially with nearby institutions like the University of San Diego and San Diego State University. Where there are colleges, there are usually plenty of 20-somethings.

5 Fun Things to Do in San Diego for 20-Somethings - Dive Bar Scene

Dive bars are often present near these establishments, as many college kids and post-grads want to blow off some steam once the weekend rolls around.  Luckily, the dive bar scene is diverse and vibrant in the San Diego area.

Seven Grand and Mr. Peabody’s are more traditional hole-in-the-wall dives, with plenty of whiskey selections, leather booths and cheap cocktails– perfect spots for 20-somethings ready to mingle.

Happy hours are a big deal here– so be sure to head to these watering holes from 5 to 8 p.m. and enjoy your affordable cocktail– it’s usually around $5, a steal in the San Diego area.

4. The Gaslamp Quarter

This area boasts more than 200 restaurants, bars and nightclubs, so obviously young residents like to flock to the Gaslamp Quarter. Some of the best spots to dig into some fresh Pacific seafood include Spike Africa’s (well-known for the lobster roll), Escape Fish Bar, which takes influences from Central America and Asia, and Seasucker, headed by a contender on Bravo’s hit reality show “Top Chef.”

5 Fun Things to Do in San Diego for 20-Somethings - The Gaslamp Quarter

Almost everything in the Gaslamp Quarter encourages pairing your mouthwatering food with wine or craft beer, and with so many eclectic choices, there’s bound to be an spot with your name on it.

5. Authentic Mexican Cuisine

Besides the gorgeous beaches, the zoo and Balboa Park, Mexican cuisine is one of the many reasons San Diego is such a hot tourist destination. Because it’s one of the biggest metropolises close to the U.S. Mexico border and the climate provides near-perfect agricultural conditions, fresh Mexican fare is abundant in the city. And, as an added bonus, a lot of it is relatively affordable– which is great for 20-somethings and college kids on a budget.

5 Fun Things to Do in San Diego for 20-Somethings - Authentic Mexican Cuisine

One of the newcomers to the area, according to 10 Best, is Oscar’s Mexican Seafood, which offers casual fare near a dive bar– perfect for young and hungry patrons after a few beers. Be prepared for a lot of cheese and avocado– they are generous with their portions at Oscar’s.

Another more upscale option is Puesto, which is located in the La Jolla neighborhood. Grilled, made-to-order meals are the highlight here, especially fish, shrimp and carne asada. However, vegetarians love Puesto too for its corn truffle, soy chorizo potatoes, and zucchini flower options.

Ponce’s is another local favorite, as it has been family-owned and operated in the Kensington neighborhood for more than four decades. Standouts here include the trademark green salsa, chicken enchiladas and carnitas– and don’t leave without trying the flan! As an added bonus, Ponce’s is known for supporting local organizations, so this is a great place to check out if you want to get more in tune with the San Diego community.

San Diego is a wonderful spot for 20-somethings, especially with the loads of cultural activities, gorgeous outdoor locations, happening food and bar scenes, and diverse neighborhoods. If you’re a new young resident to the city or have started attending college in San Diego, try out some of these great establishments that are perfect for 20-somethings.

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5 Fun Things to Do in San Diego for 20 Somethings

Rachel LaCroix


Rachel LaCroix is from the Music City, but she now calls the Windy City home. In her spare time, Rachel enjoys writing, reading, seeing local bands, frequenting Chicago eateries, playing with her adorable schnauzer and, most of all, traveling. She's seen Costa Rica to Copenhagen and loves it all!

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