It goes without saying that a city with so many great neighborhoods is bound to have equally great suburbs. Here, in no particular order, are our top five San Diego Suburbs to visit:
Head about 6 miles west of San Diego, and you'll find the city of Coronado (pop. ~25,000). And while it may be a bit pricey to live there, it certainly should not be missed. Dubbed "The Crown City", it is an affluent resort area with lovely gardens, paradisiacal beaches, and luxurious shopping and dining. Two of its most recognizable landmarks are the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, which you likely will cross on your way there, and the famous Hotel del Coronado, better known as ''The Del". This architectural marvel is the second largest wooden structure in the U.S. and has been designated a National Historic Landmark. Its guests have included royalty, celebrities, dignitaries, and, some say, even a ghost.
Located just 7 miles south of San Diego's downtown and 7 miles north of the Mexican Border, Chula Vista is the second largest city in the San Diego area (pop.~244,000). Its name translates to "beautiful view" and its location between San Diego Bay and coastal mountain foothills certainly provides more than a few gorgeous panoramas. Sports fans should plan a visit to the U.S. Olympic Training Center, while kids (and adults) are sure to have a great time at the Living Coast Discovery Center, with lots of animal ambassadors and hands-on learning experiences. Birders, hikers, runners, and cyclists can hit the miles of trails. And everyone can get in some shopping at Otay Ranch Town Center, featuring more than 100 of the top specialty stores in the country.
Head 26 miles northwest of San Diego and you'll find yourself in Encinitas (pop.~60,000). This beautiful coastal city is famous for its magnificent beaches and vibrant surf scene; in fact, surfers praise Swami’s Beach as one of the top 5 in the world. You also won't want to miss the Self-Realization Fellowship Hermitage & Meditation Gardens, with its sublime views, koi ponds, and lovely gardens. If you prefer the beach, Moonlight Beach is the perfect option for kids, volleyball lovers, and romantics alike. Afterwards, head to the San Diego Botanic Garden and enjoy 37 acres of beautiful, green vistas of plants from all over the world.
Known as "The Village by the Sea", Carlsbad (pop.~105,000) is a seaside resort community about 35 miles north of downtown San Diego. The city has been popular with tourists for over 100 years, as it previously served as a railroad stop on the route to San Diego. The downtown area is packed with shopping, dining, and nightlife, while the area known as La Costa is the go-to stop for legendary tennis and golf resorts. And, we mustn't overlook the kiddos; Legoland is the city's top destination for families with wee ones.
Just over 3 miles north on I-5 from Carlsbad, you'll find San Diego county's third largest city (pop.~167,000). If relatively small crowds and wide golden sand beaches are on your list, make sure to check out Oceanside for the classic SoCal beach experience. You'll want to visit the pier, originally built in 1888, for some beautiful ocean views. Another stop on your itinerary should be Mission San Luis Rey, a National Historic Landmark. Known as "King of the Missions", it is both fascinating and picturesque.