San Diego or San Francisco in April?

Updated on January 26, 2011
J.S. asks from Saint Paul, MN
11 answers

Hi everyone,

My best friend and I are looking for someplace for a girls weekend, probably in early-mid April. My husband has encouraged me to take a weekend away and I'm working through the guilt of spending some time/money on myself ;) SO, my friend and I are thinking west coast, and maybe San Diego or San Francisco.

We have each (independently) been to San Francisco for a weekend in the past. I'm confident we could fly in, catch a cab to our hotel or B&B and spend the weekend happily walking around, eating, having a glass of wine, and taking in the sights without renting a car.

Neither of us have been to San Diego, but I've heard it is a beautiful place to visit. My question is, what do you do there? In San Francisco I can see us visiting the Japanese Garden, a museum or two, maybe hearing some music at a bar... is a similar experience available in San Diego? Could you visit without renting a car? I know the weather would probably be better in San Diego... but are there other pro's?

Let me know your thoughts :)
Thanks, as always...

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answers from San Francisco on

If you are beach people, definitely San Diego. If not, probably San Fran.
There is a lot to do in San Diego, but if you don't really care about the beach then choose San Francisco and you can also visit wine country. Wine country is like the south of France.

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answers from Portland on

If it were me, I'd choose San Francisco. The public transport is great (you can get to either airport on bus/Bart if need be. I was stationed in SD in the 90's, and would still choose SF. Fun, enough things close in, and just lovely. SD is nice, but it's definitely a car town, as La Jolla and the beaches require a significant time commitment via public transit. And while the weather might be nicer in SD, it is a DESERT. Coming from OR, that was a huge adjustment. SF is more lush and pretty.

If I was going with your group, I'd be pulling for SF. Cafe Trieste and City Lights and Chinatown, Japantown, The Golden Gate Park.... just too rich.

Have fun, no matter what you choose!

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answers from San Francisco on

SAN DIEGO!!! Anything with beaches & Palm Trees!!!
it will be much warmer.

San Fran will still be cold & raining TRUST ME!

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answers from Seattle on

Mark Twain Quipped:

"The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco."

If you're looking for warmth (having lived in both places), head south.
Having lived in both, I would take a lover to SF and stay in bed / do the warf & chocolate & chips, and friends/family to SD.

Aside from beaches/ sailing (and even this time of year it's not really that warm out (high 60's low 70's... very cold for the area, you'll see people bundled up like there's snow on the ground, so the beaches are usually deserted this time of year)... here's what's off the top of my head:

The SanDiego Zoo & WildAnimal Park are MUST dos... there's no other place like them (SeaWorld is also pretty amazing, but there are other places similar, and *much to my regret* a lot of SeaWorld has turned into an amusement park). If you have to choose... do the wild animal park.

The Gaslamp quarter / SanDiego Oldtown is great fun / great dining. Drinking, dancing, music.

Hotel Del Coronado (Hotel Del to locals) is a must see, but check the prices before eating... often several hundred a plate.

<sniff> Fightertown USA is gone (Naval Airstation Miramar is now USMC and Topgun is moved elsewhere), but there is still a large military presence in San Diego & Surrounding. Depending on when you go there are airshows, base tours, ships & subs, and just general carousing or parades etc. surrounding the military. Check your dates, it's usually fairly well known when the fleet is returning in whole or in part, depending on your inclinations you might want to aim for or aim to miss those dates. For great eyecandy, however, any bar within 15 minutes of Coronado, Miramar, Pendelton will have an embarrassment of riches for "people watching". You'll find Marines & Sailors off duty everywhere, though. The dead giveaway is that they are required by law to tuck their shirts into their pants and be wearing belts (they often wear hats, but obviously the USMC "fade" is rather distinctive).

BALBOA Park is our nation's LARGEST entertainment complex with over 15 museums / culture arts programs, including the SanDiego Zoo.

If you feel like a chatty drive, the missions are a great trip. San Juan Capistrano is THE mission to see. It's closer to LA than SD, but it's still just a couple hours up to it.

To know about BOTH:

SD it's our "spring" because of the cool weather and rains. Everything turns bright green with the rains (SoCal really only has 2 seasons... a very long summer and a brief spring right in the middle of winter). I'm in wet old Seattle right now, so I can't tell you what color the hills are currently... but if you're expecting gold, you may or may not be quite surprised. SF is c-c-cold (40's...just cold enough to get into your joints) and foggy damp with rain off and on. They aren't *quite* into their "spring" yet, but it would look like march/april to most of the rest of the country currently.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I've been to both, and enjoyed both equally. If you are going w/ your BF for some adults time though I would probably give the edge to SF. The weather probably won't be as nice (the weather is gorgeous in SD!) but there is lots to do for the adults-only set in SF, especially wine country (hubby and I very much enjoyed the winery tours.) I would definitely fit the Alcatraz tour in too...loved that! Now if I was to bring kids I'd choose SD hands down. The zoo, Sea World, beaches, etc. would give the edge to SD. I think whatever you pick you'll have a great time though.:)



answers from Cedar Rapids on

My hubby and I went to San Diego when I was pregnant, and we had a fantastic time! LOTS to do there. I highly recommend the ferry tour of the bay and also the tour of the retired navy ship there (can't remember the name). The zoo was fantastic (although I got tired from walking so much, so we didn't do the whole thing). We didn't do the Wild Animal Park, but I'm sure it would be great, too. We did go to Sea World (no rides for me though) and the shows were fantastic. Our hotel was close to the beach, and we walked along the piers every afternoon/evening. We ate at the rib place where Top Gun (the piano scene) was filmed. We also went to the aqaurium that is a few miles up Highway 1. Just driving on Highway 1 is gorgeous, and there are lots of places to stop and enjoy the view/hit the beach along the way. The fresh seafood restaurants around the pier were great.

We got a great deal using Hotwire on a hotel we otherwise couldn't have afforded. The only real con was that parking fees were horrendous ~ I want to say $30 a day or something like that.

I've been to SF, but it was a work trip a lifetime ago. Lots to do and see there, too. Since you've never been to SD, go there! It's always fun to visit someplace new. Have fun!



answers from Rochester on

I took a weekend cruise with some friends out of San Diego last year. It was a ton of fun and really close to the airport (within walking distance from the boat). That could be an option. We went the end of January and the weather was great!



answers from Minneapolis on

My experience of San Diego is that it is a great place to visit with kids (Sea World, Lego Land, the Zoo). I'm not sure if it's as great a place for adults as San Francisco.



answers from Minneapolis on

I lived in Sf and have been to SD on business several times, house shopping once as well as on vacation w/ family once. SF ALL THE WAY!!

Besides the nice weather I have no idea why people rave about SD. It's really dirty, hard to get around (you will have to get a car), sea world was so dirty... we were fighting off the seagulls who were swarming us while trying to eat, the zoo is lovely but SF has so much more to offer and I think is such a better atmosphere. SD = dirty, dirty, dirty.

If you go t SF make sure you do a the Alcatraz tour - it was really cool. Good luck!



answers from San Francisco on

I would choose San Diego. It has been very cold up here in the Bay Area this year. In San Diego it should be warmer and then they have the World class Zoo and Wildlife Park. They also have nice beaches with sand. You will probably need to rent a car, but since you have not been there, I would think it is the place to go.



answers from San Diego on

Hi, Jessica. Although I am not a Mom, I am a Dad -- and have homes in both Sonoma and San Diego -- so I hope I can be of assistance.

Here are my thoughts.

SF/Bay Area: Yes, if you do not have a car in the City, you'll have a much easier time getting around SF and to/from the Airport by cab or BART (BART is the public "train or subway system" - great for your travel to/from airport...and is cheap). If you are only there for 1 weekend, then you'll probably just hang out in the City...Napa/Sonoma is great this time of year too, but that'll take at least 1/2 of a day - even if you rent a car, etc. If only a weekend, the City will have a lot for you to see. Stay in the Union Squ Area - there are alot of hotels within walking distance from everywhere and several BART stops. A couple of good places I always stay: (1) InterContinental [my favorite -- the one on Howard/5th], (2) Parc 55 [right off Market Street], (3) Westin St Francis [Union Square] or (4) Westin Market Street. If you search their availabilities, you may find good deals...and sometimes weekends are cheaper than mid-week since SF houses a lot of conventions. There is a lot to do - more culture and better restaurants in SF vs SD. Better wine bars too.

San Diego: As you noted, always nice weather in SD. It's sunny and in the mid-70's as I write this. You'll have a tougher time getting around San Diego without a car. If you stay in Downtown SD and stay there, you'll be ok with cabs, but the great thing about San Diego is that there are SO MANY areas that are SO DIFFERENT from each other. Downtown SD is much different than Del Mar, for example. Pacific Beach (PB) has a much younger crowd, but a very relaxed laid back beach atmosphere. La Jolla is nice too, but just different than all the others. You can safely say that if you pick an area (for the weekend) you won't need a car, but you'll be cabbing it for the most part wherever you go. You'll have some great sunny days, meals on the water, chances for walks on the beach, but you'll have the pack it into 2 days -- which is that's why it's a tough toss-up. The one thing I will say, I think you have an opportunity to do more DIFFERENT things in SD (go to beach, go to museum, happy hour on the water, dinner somewhere else, walk around Balboa Park or Downtown), but you'll need to choose an area and make that your pivot-point.

Overall, April is a great month in both places - SF has decent weather, but you wouldn't go to the beach. SD can be a beach day almost any day of the year, for the most part. You just need to decide what "surroundings" you want. OHHH, I forgot to mention, you WILL be approached by homeless people in San Francisco...that is just a fact. San Diego has its share too, but a lot of the homeless folks in San Diego are scattered around and less concentrated. I hope this helps.

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