Ahhh – it’s sunny San Diego! A solo trip to San Diego is high on many bucket lists. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the U.S. Between the beaches, relaxed vibes, and never-ending sunshine; I can understand why it’s stolen many solo travelers’ hearts. The views, food, and weather make it hard to leave.
I loved the number of things to do alone in San Diego. And unlike other cities I’ve covered in my solo female travel guides, such as Charleston, New Orleans, and Houston, there is a ton to do outdoors in San Diego. You can take advantage of the weather for sure! Here’s what else you should know when planning your solo trip to San Diego.
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Is San Diego safe for solo female travelers?
I experienced no safety issues as a Black solo female traveler in San Diego. I walked around quite a bit downtown, and I felt even safer by the beaches. My hostels both felt secure, and I walked around at night with no problems. However, I will say that the Gaslamp Quarter can get a bit lively. So be alert when out, about, and drinking in the clubs.
How many days should you spend in San Diego?
The number of days you spend on a solo trip to San Diego depends on how much you want to see and do. For solo female travelers who are on their own schedules, I would recommend at least three days. However, if you have more time, five days is more than enough to get a good feel for the sunny, beach-filled city.
Where to stay in San Diego as a solo traveler
Hostelling International (HI) San Diego Downtown
Solo female travelers who want to be in the mix will love HI San Diego Downtown! Located in the Gaslamp Quarter, you will be near tons of bars, restaurants, and clubs. Solo travelers who are remote workers and digital nomads will also like HI San Diego Downtown’s spacious workspaces and full kitchen.
Samesun Ocean Beach
For solo travelers looking for beach life, head to Samesun Ocean Beach. This hostel is the most colorful one I have ever stayed in during my travels. Located 20ish minutes from downtown San Diego, Ocean Beach is full of restaurants, bars, and shops.
Samesun offers hostel activities for travelers to mingle. On the weekends it feels more like a party hostel with hostellers hanging out on the back patio. There are also great outdoor spaces for remote work to take in the San Diego sun as you work.
How to get around San Diego traveling solo
San Diego is one place where you could rent a car. After my trip I contemplated if I should have rented a car. However, parking is not the best!
If you are a solo traveler who does not want to rent a car, it’s not impossible to get around. I caught a mix of rideshares and public transportation. To go from one side of the city to the other by bus means you can be waiting awhile. I took the blue line train a lot too.
Where to eat in San Diego
Cafe X: By Any Beans Necessary
I love finding a Black-owned coffee shop in each city! Cafe X is a Black woman-owned cafe run by a mother and her daughter. I loved this coffee shop and its small selection of treats and drinks. And yes, it’s named after Malcolm X.
Carruth Wine Garden
Little Italy is San Diego‘s Italian neighborhood and where you can find Carruth Wine Garden. Carruth has a great selection of wines and wine flights to try multiple. This wine garden is also an excellent spot to get some work done if you are a solo traveler or remote worker. I sat outside until the sun went down and the outdoor heaters turned on since it gets cool at night.
The Breakfast Republic
If you stay in Ocean Beach, I highly recommend going to brunch at The Breakfast Republic. There will probably be a wait, but they have delicious egg benedicts, potatoes, omelets, and other sweet breakfast items. Remember to sit at the bar as a solo traveler in San Diego or anywhere to make conversation if you want to mingle.
Street Car Merchants
Another Black-owned spot in San Diego is Street Car Merchants. A bar and restaurant, they have an assortment of sandwiches and other entrées for you to choose from and enjoy. Like many other places, Street Car Merchants also provides indoor and outdoor seating.
Flavors of East Africa
To switch up from some of my usual food, I headed to Flavors of East Africa. They have vegetarian and non-vegetarian items such as plantains, chicken, eggplant, etc. The food was indeed flavorful and will not break the bank either.
The Holding Company
Ocean Beach does have some nightlife for solo travelers in San Diego! During the day and night, you can get breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner at The Holding Company. And at night, it turns into a full bar with music and good vibes.
Chef Buddha Blasian Soul Food Truck
Situated behind the coffee shop Café X, you can also visit this food truck. Chef Buddha Blasian Soul is a husband and wife-run food truck that pairs soul food mixed with Asian spices and sauces. Since Café X does not have an extensive menu, at least at this time, then you can get lunch in the back outside by the food truck.
Rhythm’s Chicken & Waffles
Of all the meals in San Diego, this one was probably my favorite! Rhythm’s Chicken & Waffles is a Black-owned chicken shack where you can get a variety of chicken sandwiches. They are big, so you can also order mini sliders if you don’t want to try a whole sandwich or you want to try multiple flavors.
Soi OB Thai Street Food
A lunch option for solo travelers in San Diego staying in Ocean Beach is Thai food. The menu at Soi OB Thai Street Food includes curry, pad see ew, pad thai, and other Thai cuisine and noodle dishes. The sweet rice and mango also make for a tasty breakfast for leftovers!
The most popular tours in San Diego:
- 🚢 Take an evening cruise sparkling skyline views with top-notch food and drink
- 🐋 Go whale watching from San Diego aboard a replica of a historic sailing schooner on this cruise adventure
- 🚶 In just four hours, experience the scenic highlights of San Diego and its neighboring areas with this tour
- 🍲 Learn all about San Diego’s food scene in the Gaslamp District in the downtown area of the city
- 🏞️ Explore Tijuana, Mexico, without getting lost on this day trip from San Diego
Things to do alone in San Diego
Day trip to Tijuana
Going to Mexico was not on my list; however, you might as well go when in San Diego! I went on a day trip with a street food tour I found on Viator to Tijuana and enjoyed every minute. My guide was incredible! It was a small tour, and the food was delicious. I highly recommend doing this if you are on a solo trip to San Diego, as it is so close to the border.
Solo travelers who love wildlife and animals will love whale watching. From mid-December to late April, you can go whale watching in San Diego. They are migrating south, and it is a typical tourist outing in the city. I chose to go with Flagship Cruises & Events and recommend taking Dramamine even if you do not get seasick.
Visit farmer’s markets
On your solo trip to San Diego, you cannot forget to visit one or more of their farmer’s markets. Due to the incredible weather year-round, they are known for their markets. Some options include the market in Little Italy during the day and the night market in Ocean Beach with tons of food.
Sunset Cliffs sunset and hike
Solo female travelers who love to chase sunsets will love sunset cliffs. The hike is not very intense, depending upon where you want to go, but most of it is flat. So get here early, bring a picnic blanket, maybe some food and drinks, and watch the sunset. It was one of my favorite activities in San Diego.
One of the most alluring parts of San Diego is its proximity to water. There are beaches all around the city. Beaches you can choose from include: La Jolla, Mission, Pacific, Mission, and Ocean Beach. Also, visiting the beaches is one of the easiest things you can do alone in San Diego.
Balboa Park and Belmont Park are two of San Diego’s major parks. Solo travelers love them both because you can wander. Balboa has a lot of Spanish influence in its design, shops, and garden. Belmont Park is more of an amusement park in the Mission neighborhood.
Safety as a Black solo female traveler in San Diego
San Diego does not have a large Black population. However, finding places such as Cafe X to relax and meet Black San Diegans was refreshing. There are also a slew of Black-owned businesses in San Diego to support.
As a Black solo female traveler in San Diego, I will reiterate that I felt safe. I would say the beach area felt the safest. Ocean Beach is not known for being the party beach, which I heard happens more on Pacific Beach.
So is San Diego good for solo travel? Yes!
San Diego is an expensive city! However, I think it is one of the more accessible cities to navigate as a solo female traveler. Whether you rent a car, use rideshares, or even take public transportation, it is a manageable city if you are just starting your solo traveler adventures.