A luxury guide to San Diego

Sailboats anchored in San Diego Bay
Sailboats anchored in San Diego Bay

With near-perfect Californian weather year-round, endless coastline, world-class attractions and a thriving urban scene, San Diego is a vibrant beach city where visitors can enjoy art exhibits, diverse dining and nightlife, and water sports such as surfing and sailing.

Where to stay

Pendry San Diego enjoys a central location downtown in the heart of the Historic Gaslamp Quarter close to Petco Park, as well as multiple bars, restaurants and cafes, nightlife hotspots, beaches, and boutiques. The 317 guest rooms and suites exude an urban coastal California vibe and modern luxury aesthetic, offering views of the bay and downtown.

The hotel is known as a culinary hub within San Diego, with its six bars and restaurants including a classic cocktail bar, Fifth and Rose; Nason’s Beer Hall serving local craft beers and paying homage to the Nason & Co Farmer’s Market which occupied the space in the early 1900s; and modern, coastal cuisine at Lionfish from Executive Chef, Jose ‘Jo-Jo’ Ruiz.

Room rates start at about US$540 (about AUD$760) per night.

What to do

Often referred to as the ‘Smithsonian of the West,’ Balboa Park features 17 museums, numerous galleries and performing arts venues suited to anyone with a passion for art and culture. The Centro Cultural de la Raza celebrates Chicano, Latin, and Indigenous art and culture through visual arts exhibitions, live performances and film screenings. At this 485-hectare ‘back yard’ of San Diego, take one of more than 50 walks and trails such as the Palm Canyon walk featuring more than 450 palms and 58 species.

Wander the extensive Japanese Friendship Gardens (JFG) – an accredited museum established in 1991 that offers a variety of educational programs, exhibits, and cultural festivals to enhance appreciation and understanding of Japanese culture. JFG is an expression of friendship between San Diego and its sister city, Yokohama, with its gardens inspired by centuries-old Japanese design and techniques.

Renowned landscape architect Takeo Uesugi was involved in the second phase of its development in 1999, while a third phase, completed in 2015, incorporated a 200-cherry tree grove, large azalea and camellia garden and a water feature reminiscent of the San Diego watershed.

Japanese Friendship Garden, San Diego
Japanese Friendship Garden, San Diego

With ample coastline, San Diego is renowned for its water activities including sailing. Head to the Cabrilla Isle Marina at Harbor Island to join the crew at San Diego Sailing Tours — perhaps on a customised private yacht tour aboard the flagship yacht, Lei Lani, a 36-foot long 1967 Cal Jensen, completely restored to its original condition.

Take the helm yourself or simply sit back and enjoy the views while the professionals glide Lei Lani throughout the bay and beyond. Between December and April, you may even spot migrating whales (the company also runs whale-watching tours).

Sailing in San Diego
Sailing in San Diego

If you’d rather take in the water views from a different perspective, then you may like to soar above San Diego in a tandem paraglide with Torrey Pines Gliderport. The group has a nearly 100-year history of successful flight lessons, certifications and tandem flights above the Torrey Pines cliffs and the San Diego coast.

Gliders at Torrey Pines, San Diego
Gliders at Torrey Pines, San Diego


Sample San Diego’s Cali Baja cuisine, local craft beers and Californian wines at a number of eateries.

Not far from The Pendry at nearby La Jolla, you’ll find The Marine Room, an elegant fine dining restaurant. The menu is centred around seafood dishes with globally influenced flavours. The ‘seahorse’ symbol of The Marine Room has been a feature since 1941, opposite the waves of La Jolla Shores just outside. The restaurant has been frequented over the decades by world leaders, celebrities, residents, and visitors throughout the year, and has won accolades and awards with Open Table’s 100 Most Scenic Restaurants in America.

The Marine Room
Dining with a view at The Marine Room, San Diego.

Mister A’s, another fine dining restaurant, offers 180-degree views of downtown. The cuisine is inspired by American, French and Mediterranean influences prepared by long-time Executive Chef, Stephane Voitwinkler. Shareable dishes can be paired with cocktails or wines from an expansive drinks menu.

In Little Italy, Morning Glory is a favourite with locals for breakfast — the line out the door is a testament to the popularity of its traditional pancakes, eggs benedict and endless coffee refills.

Getting there

United Airlines offers direct flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Los Angeles. From there, you can reach San Diego by car in about one hour and 50 minutes.

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